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22nd Apr 2022

Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial: the main takeaways so far

Laura Cunningham

A conclusion has been drawn to one of most high profile court cases Hollywood has ever seen

*Content warning: This article contains reference to sexual abuse and domestic violence.*

After a six-week court case, Johnny Depp’s high-profile libel trial against Amber Heard has ended, with the jurors ruling that a 2018 article published in The Washington Post was defamatory.

Depp was awarded $15m by the court, made up of $10m compensatory damages and a further $5m in punitive damages.

The trial saw Johnny Depp and Amber Heard appear in a Virginia courtroom for the former’s $50 million defamation lawsuit against the latter.

The couple were married in in 2015, and subsequently divorced in 2017. A year after, Heard wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in which she claimed that she had been abused. While the piece doesn’t mention Depp by name, the actor’s legal team claim that Heard has ruined his reputation by “choosing to lie about him for her own personal benefit.”

Before the trial began, Heard took to Instagram to say that she is taking a break from social media. In her statement, she said: “Johnny is suing me for an op-ed I wrote in the Washington Post, in which I recounted my experience of violence and domestic abuse. I wrote about the price women pay for speaking out against men in power. I continue to pay that price, but hopefully when this case concludes, I can move on and so can Johnny.”

Throughout the trial, Depp’s legal team have alleged that he was a victim of abuse at the hands of Heard.

He pointed to a number of alleged incidents, one of which involved the severing of his finger. Depp alleges that Heard was responsible for the injury and claimed that she threw a vodka bottle at him. Previously, a judge in a libel lawsuit against The Sun did not accept that Heard was responsible.

Depp attended the emergency room with the injury, but said that he had lied about what caused it as he didn’t want Heard to get into “trouble”.

Depp’s longterm doctor told the court that he didn’t know how he had injured the finger, and he said that he received a text from Depp in which he said he had cut the finger himself.

In addition to this account of alleged physical abuse, Depp claimed that Heard extinguished a cigarette on his cheek.

The actor told the court about how he had experienced abuse as a child, and he alleged that Heard used this abuse against him. He said this childhood abuse “became ammunition for Miss Heard to either verbally decimate me or to send me into a kind of tailspin of confusion and depression.”

He claimed that this alleged verbal abuse from Heard made him want to walk away, or to isolate himself in a bathroom.

Mr Depp also alleges that Heard’s treatment of him led him to turn to alcohol and drugs. He told the court: “I was more inspired by Miss Heard to reach out for a numbing agent.”

The trial heard how Depp was detoxing from opiates at one point, but required pain medication following a dental surgery. He claims that at the “lowest” point in his life, he begged her for the pills, but she allegedly wouldn’t give them to him.

In her opening statement, Heard’s legal team alleged that she suffered sexual violence and domestic abuse at the hands of Johnny Depp. This abuse, they say “took many forms”, and included physical, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse.

Her lawyer told the court: “You will hear in the most graphic and horrifying terms about the violence that she suffered. You’ll hear that straight from her. She will get on the stand and she will tell you that. It happened.”

Depp was then cross-examined by Heard’s lawyer on Thursday, where the court was shown messages between Depp and actor Paul Bettany, where they discussed “burning” and “drowning” Heard.

Other messages between Depp and Heard also showed the Pirates of the Caribbean actor say, “The only reason we go for the throat is love,” and “I have other uses for your throat which don’t include injury” in 2013.

Heard’s lawyer also referenced Depp’s use of alcohol and drugs, alluding to trashed hotel rooms and video footage of Depp destroying furniture in his own home.

The jury was also shown an audio clip where Depp asked Heard to cut him with a knife. Another recording heard Depp say: “I head butted you on the f**king forehead. That doesn’t break a nose.”

The case, as we know went in Depp’s favour with the jury deciding that Amber Heard’s article was defaming. Depp was awarded damages of $15 million.

What do you think of the verdict?

If you have been affected affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact Women’s Aid 24/7 on 1800 341 900.