Johnny Depp libel trial: ‘I was really scared for Amber’s life’, friend tells court

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Welcome to day 14 of our coverage of Johnny Depp’s libel trial against the publishers of The Sun, live from the High Court in London.

Key points:

Day 14 of Johnny Depp’s libel action against The Sun’s publishers, NGN, at the High Court in LondonToday, the court was shown previously unseen reality TV footage of Amber Heard’s sister, which Depp’s team say suggests the actress once ‘assaulted’ her – she told the court the fight was “verbal” and producers were trying to make a better storyline Depp’s team asked Heard to “refrain from using her phone” outside court – Heard’s team say an allegation that she communicated with her sister during her evidence is falseDepp denies 14 allegations of violence against Heard and has accused her of being the “abuser” – he finished giving evidence last weekCoverage from entertainment reporter @Bethanyminelle at court, with additional reporting from @gemmapeplowPosts may contain graphic or explicit language, or include images of injury and drug use

15:10

Ms Laws is asking Ms Pennington why “if she had received distressing news about her friend” that she seemed to be enjoying herself in the video.

Ms Pennington simply says she doesn’t know when in the evening the alleged violence happened.

It’s confirmed that the second video was shot around midnight.

15:08

‘You’re a savage’

This video was shot at the same Thanksgiving meal as the first video we watched.

In this one we can hear Marilyn Manson and Depp joking about Depp’s son being “a savage”.

15:05

Watch: This footage of Thanksgiving has been played in court

15:04

Marilyn Manson

Ms Laws is asking Ms Pennington to watch the first part of the video again, and confirm that she is in the video, and can be heard saying: “I’m not cool.”

Ms Pennington says: “I see my face in the beginning, but I don’t recognise my voice. I’m not sure if it’s my voice or Amber’s voice.”

Ms Pennington confirms Amber’s father, David, is in the video, as is Depp’s son Jack.

She confirms she is there and in the video too. She says singer Marilyn Manson was also at the dinner, but says she does not see him in the video.

15:02

Fooling around

We are now looking at a video shot at the Thanksgiving party. It shows a meal with several guests present.

We can see Depp’s son Jack fooling around with a table serviette, flicking it towards Heard’s father David. The dogs Pistol and Boo can be seen reacting to the tomfoolery, and barking.

It’s not clear who is shooting the video, which looks like it’s been filmed on a phone.

Towards the end of the video the person filming starts to head out of the room, and heads up the stairs.

14:54

Thanksgiving

We move on to a part of Ms Pennington’s statement that talks about Thanksgiving 2015.

This is the passage we’re reading: “I attended Thanksgiving dinner with Johnny and Amber and a number of others at their apartment, PH5, in November 2015.

“At one point late in the meal Amber went upstairs to look for Johnny and stayed up there for a long time. After a long time they both came downstairs.

“When I asked Amber what had happened she told me that Johnny had thrown a bottle of wine at her in the bedroom. I went to look and found that a full bottle of wine had hit and broken a piece of art that Amber really loves above the bed and that broken glass was scattered all over the bed.

“I went back downstairs and spoke to Amber. She was upset, but just wanted to get through dinner without further problems.”

14:49

Feet

Ms Laws suggests looking at “the soles of your friend’s feet isn’t an every day occurrence”.

Ms Pennington agrees that she can’t remember a specific time she carefully examined anyone’s feet, other than to possibly “remove a splinter”.

Ms Laws is keen to find out the nature of the cuts. She asks if they were “long, deep or jagged”.

Ms Pennington says she can’t remember the detail, and that this was several years ago.

Ms Laws says: “You are making this up. You have lied for your friend Amber Heard”.

Ms Pennington replies: “Absolutely not.”

14:46

Injuries

In Ms Pennington’s statement she says she “became really scared for Amber’s life” after the Australia incident.

She describes “deep lacerations from her wrists to her elbows”, saying it was worse on one arm than the other. She also said the soles of Heard’s feet had been cut. She describes it “as smaller cuts on the bottom of both her feet”.

This is how she describes it in her statement: “She had gashes on her arms from the incident.  I could see that her forearms were scratched and bloody, from her wrists to her elbows.  She still has scars on her arms from this incident.  I also saw at some point that her feet were cut too.”

14:40

Ms Laws asks: “At no stage did you see Mr Depp beat or hit Ms Heard, did you?”

Ms Pennington confirms she did not.

14:39

‘Best friends’

Ms Pennington says she was “best friends” with Heard at the time and they spent a lot of time together.

Ms Laws asks if they are still best friends.

Ms Pennington says no, but they are “still close”.

Ms Laws suggests Ms Pennington is part of Heard’s “team of supporters”.

Ms Pennington says “I supported Amber in 2014 and 2015”.

14:37

She says she lived in Depp’s penthouse block for roughly two years between 2014 and 2016.

She confirms her ex-partner Josh Drew (who gave evidence earlier this week) lived with her.

She says Heard lived there all the time, but was often flying out for jobs and coming in and out.

She says she lived in penthouse one – PH1 – which she says wasn’t linked to any of Depp’s other apartments. She says three of the apartments were linked.

Ms Pennington confirms she and Mr Drew had “a master key”. She also says they paid no rent.

14:35

The court is back in session, and the witness in the box is Heard’s friend Raquel Pennington – who often goes by the name of Rocky.

She is wearing a black top and has light mid-length light brown wavy hair.

Ms Wass confirms that Ms Pennington agrees everything in her witness statement (given earlier) is correct.

14:28

The court has now risen for a few minutes, while the video link is set up for the next witness, who will be talking from LA.

14:25

Whitney Henriquez has now finished giving evidence, and leaves the witness box.

14:24

Ms Henriquez confirms for the judge that she and Amber share the same mother and father, and that her father David is still alive.

14:23

‘I’m here to do the right thing’

Ms Henriquez says Johnny was a “kind, beautiful, generous human that we loved” when he was sober. She goes on to say: “We were hoping that that Johnny was going to come back.”

She says there then came a point they realised that although he had moments of sobriety, that moment was not going to come.

To the accusation she has come to the court to give “false evidence”, Ms Henriquez says: “I’m here because she [Amber] was a victim of domestic violence and that’s the only reason. I’m here to do the right thing.”

14:20

‘We grew up in a violent household’

Ms Henriquez says Heard “was madly in love” with Depp.

“Me and Amber grew up in a very violent household, and to the moment she died my mother never left my father.”

Ms Henriquez clarifies that her mother, Paige Parsons, died on 1 April this year.

Ms Henriquez says “we were taught to stay”.

14:18

Ms Wass asks what Depp thought of van Ree.

Ms Henriquez says “he wasn’t a fan”.

She says Depp was jealous of all Heard’s ex-partners.

14:18

She says her original confusion over what happened to each painting was “an honest mistake”.

14:17

Flamingo painting

We are returning to talk of the artwork by Head’s ex-wife Tasya van Ree, which it’s alleged Depp damaged in an argument.

Ms Henriquez is looking at a screen-grab of a flamingo painting, which she says was in the garage at the time the photo was taken.

Ms Henriquez says “Johnny tried to set fire to the back of it with his lighter, but it wouldn’t light”.

She is now talking about a second painting, and she says “the only thing he tried to do to that was wright “Pee” over “Ree”.

14:14

Court is now back in session, and in other news I just bumped into Depp and his security team outside the toilets.

They are looking very businesslike, and I assume were heading towards the public gallery to watch the afternoon session.

Whitney Henriquez is back in the witness box.

13:12

Chopping and changing

Ms Wass asks whether Heard had ever taken cocaine with her, but the judge halts her in her tracks. He does not allow this question.

The judge asks if now would be a convenient time to break for lunch.

With that the court will break until 2.10.

What a very disjointed and unexpected morning it’s been in court today.

Whitney Henriquez will be back in the witness box after lunch.

See you back here then!

13:07

We are now looking at a photograph taken on 22 March 2013 at 13.27.

This is the photo of a table with lines of cocaine on, and the notorious blue tampon applicator.

Ms Henriquez tells the court she has previously “taken cocaine with Johnny” and that she first took cocaine a few months previous to that, “just a couple of times”.

She says this occurred before the date the photo was taken.

She says when they first took cocaine together, she “gave him the applicator”.

13:02

Full transcript of the reality TV video

Here is a full transcript of the “really bad reality TV show” we have been shown in court.

Depp’s legal team say this is evidence that Whitney Henriquez was lying yesterday, when she told the court that her sister Amber had never been violent towards her.

[Indiscernible talking]

Female 1: Did you get into a fight or something?

WH: Oh ah ha thank you.

Female 2: An altercation. 

WH: Got into an altercation.

Female 1: [indiscernible] Oh.

WH: Already talked about. Won’t talk about it anymore.

Female 1:  I can’t believe Amber beat your ass. I know you could beat her ass.

WH: We‘re not gonna talk about that.

Female 1:  Whitney truth or dare? Did you really start the fight with your sister? Or did she start it? For real for real for real.

WH: We‘re not gonna talk about that.

Female 1: She really did woop your butt.

WH: Oh we are not talking about it.

Female 1: Yes, I’m done. I guess I’m done talking about it. [Indiscernible]   

12:56

‘Mark on your chest’

Ms Laws says there is a visible mark on Ms Henriquez’s chest. She says that’s not true, and that the lawyer is “looking for injuries that are not there”.

12:55

Ms Laws says one of the women is “holding on to your chin” and looking at injuries.

Ms Henriquez says they were not looking at physical injuries.

Ms Laws asks why she didn’t correct the women, and say “it was just an argument, not a fight”.

Ms Henriquez says she did not want to discuss a dispute with her sister on TV.

She says: “I wanted to shut the conversation down. I had no interest in talking about that on camera.”

12:53

‘A really bad reality TV show’

Ms Henriquez is now being shown the video.

In it we hear the women asking her: “Whitney truth or dare, did you really start the fight with your sister or did she start it? For real, for real?”

Ms Henriquez says they were discussing a verbal argument between her and Amber “for a really bad reality TV show”.

She denies it was a “physical fight”. She says the show’s producers were trying to make “a really bad story line better.

She goes on: “They were trying to make a narrative that wasn’t there. Trying to make a really, really boring conversation more interesting.”

12:50

Whitney

Whitney Henriquez is now back in the witness box.

12:36

We are told the court will now take a ten-minute break, and re-convene at 12.50 while the video issue is sorted out.

The judge reminds the court – rather curtly – that “time is pressing”.

Back shortly.

12:34

Ms Wass suggests that Whitney watches the video “in private on a laptop with a lawyer”.

The judge agrees it needs to be done in the presence of a lawyer who will explain to her that this is going to be the subject of some further questions in court.

12:33

Mr Sherborne is arguing that this is a very different situation, and that documents are a different proposition to this new evidence.

He says Whitney will “tailor her evidence” if she is given pre-knowledge of the video”. He says she “will not have to call on a great act of memory” to recall this, and notes that she doesn’t have difficulty remembering the staircase incident in March 2015.

The judge disagrees, and thinks it’s reasonable for Whitney to be shown the video first.

The judge wants to know how “the mechanics” of showing her this will be worked out. He says it’a “a sensitive exercise” and insists it’s a lawyer that shows her the video.

12:30

The judge says he will allow brief questioning over this.

Ms Wass asks for permission to show this video to Whitney ahead of being questioned, saying “at the moment she has no idea… When Mr Depp was being questioned he was given permission to speak to his lawyers about new evidence”.

Ms Wass says otherwise this is “an ambush”, adding that it will “put her [Whitney] at a disadvantage” if she’s not allowed to preview the video.

12:26

Mr Sherborne is applying to the judge to re-open the cross-examination of Whitney Henriquez so he can ask her about this video specifically.

12:26

The person who has provided this video evidence, late yesterday evening, is remaining anonymous.

12:24

Mr Sherborne says the video is filmed in 2006 or 2007, and was indeed for some sort of TV show.

He says it is rushes from footage that was never aired, and was unscripted.

He says it clearly show there was a physical altercation between the sisters.

He disagrees that this evidence is “light-hearted” and says “given the importance of the issue over whether Heard was violent”, he feels it is very important.

12:21

Ms Wass says this is some sort of reality TV, and “light-hearted and flippant”.

She says it should not be taken into account.

12:20

‘I can’t believe Amber beat your ass’

We are now watching an undated video, showing a group of women chatting and drinking juice by a swimming pool in the sun.

In it we hear one woman questioning Whitney Heard about Amber Heard “beating her up”. It’s suggested there is an altercation between the two sisters.

The woman says: “I can’t believe Amber beat your ass. I know you could beat her ass.”

In the video, Whitney says several times: “I’m not talking about it.”

The woman repeats: “She really did whip your butt.”

Depp’s lawyer says: “Not only did Amber Heard physically assault her sister, but that the injuries suffered by Whitney are being examined by the women in the video. There is no denial that Ms Amber Heard beat up her sister Whitney.”

He goes on: “At one point she visibly demonstrates her arm and her elbow to the woman asking the questions.” He says they are examining the marks left from the alleged fight.

Whitney also appears to point to her neck in the video too.

12:15

The make-up issue is the last area of examination for Ms Sexton, and Ms Wass’s last question.

The judge thanks Ms Sexton for her time, and the video link is disconnected.

12:15

‘A thick layer of foundation’

Ms Sexton tells the court she has a pretty good knowledge of make-up, and took several make-up courses at the start of her career.

Describing Heard’s routine, Ms Sexton says: “She wore very little. Just foundation, or lip or cheek tint if it was daytime… If it was an evening event, someone would do her make-up for her.”

She says: “I remember seeing a great deal of foundation when she was auditioning for Blonde. That’s what led me to ask her what was going on, as she didn’t normally wear so much foundation.”

She goes on to describe Heard as wearing a “thick layer of foundation”.

She goes on to say Heard was crying when she asked her about it.

12:11

Ms Sexton says she feels “she could have done more”, and that now she knows much more about domestic violence.

She also alleges Depp was “controlling” of Heard’s career, and often “dismissive” over roles Heard was offered.

12:10

‘She would look away from me’

Ms Wass asks when Ms Sexton first heard about the alleged domestic violence issue.

Ms Sexton says it was in May 2016, when Heard told her Depp had “slapped and tried to strangle her”.

She says she had asked her before, but Heard wouldn’t answer.

Ms Sexton says: “She would look away and wouldn’t answer me, so I had a feeling it [the violence] was happening.”

She says this was during a time Heard was preparing for a role in a film called Blonde, and Heard was “trying to cover her face” when talking to her. Ms Sexton says she asked if Depp was hitting her, but didn’t get an answer.

She says she suspected domestic violence abuse, but Heard “didn’t confirm it until some time later”.

12:06

Ms Wass now wants to ask whether there were any signs of injury on Heard’s face when she told her of the abuse.

The judge disallows this question, and says that was not raised in the cross-examination.

12:03

‘Fighting the whole time’

Ms Wass, lawyer for The Sun, is now cross-examining Ms Sexton. We refer to Ms Sexton’s US deposition given on 18 December 2019.

Ms Sexton confirms she had not been told previously that Depp’s finger had been inured with a bottle, that he alleged was thrown by Heard.

Ms Laws asks her when she first became aware that anything had happened in Australia in 2015.

Ms Sexton says when Heard returned form Australia: “She said that they had had a horrible time, they were fighting the whole time.”

Ms Sexton says Heard told her “Johnny had gone on a bender… They were fighting the whole time and she wanted to leave but wasn’t allowed to leave.”

She says “I know for sure that’s what she told me then.”

11:59

We’re back.

The judge apologises for the “hiatus”.

11:57

Still no joy. The court is taking a brief break while they try to get their act together with the video link.

11:53

We were briefly reconnected, but the line has dropped out again…

11:52

There are some technical gremlins at work. The video link to Australia has frozen, and the court is doing it’s best to get the line back.

Or more accurately, I suspect some poor IT worker in the back room is currently sweating it out and trying their hardest to reconnect…

11:48

‘He tore the trailer apart’

We return to the Hicksville camping incident.

Ms Sexton tells the court what she saw in Depp and Heard’s traler: “Everything was strewn around, everything was in disarray… Broken things everywhere.”

She says she she heard Depp apologising to the trailer park manager, and talking with his staff, saying “he’d take care of it”.

She says Heard was upset, and told her Depp had “torn the trailer apart”.

She says she heard the argument the night before too, but made the decision not to come out of her trailer and investigate.

11:44

‘Screaming matches’

Ms Laws asks when Ms Sexton first “became aware of the volatility in the relationship”.

Ms Sexton says it was in 2013 or 2013, when Heard was living in Orange County.

She elaborates: “It was passionate in both directions, both extraordinarily loving, but there were also screaming matches.”

She goes on: “At the time I was only aware of verbal fights, and them calling each other names… I thought it was only emotional abuse – them screaming and saying horrible things to each other.”

11:41

Court is back in session.

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