“There is no doubt that Mr Depp regularly and systematically abused his wife,” Wass said in her closing argument. “The characterisation that he is a wife beater is entirely truthful.”
She said Depp was “a hopeless addict who repeatedly lost his self-control and all ability to restrain his anger”.
“Permeating all of the evidence in this case is the character of Mr Depp himself — his well-documented evidence of violence and destruction over his adult life which have occurred when he was under the influence of drink and drugs.”
Depp, 57, and Heard, 34, met on the set of the 2011 comedy The Rum Diary and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. Heard filed for divorce the following year, and the divorce was finalised in 2017.
The former spouses have both been in court throughout three weeks of testimony at the grand neo-Gothic court building, though Depp did not attend on Monday.
Lawyers, journalists and members of the public, spread across several video-linked courtrooms to allow for social distancing, have heard lurid details of the couple’s tempestuous relationship. The evidence has revealed prodigious drinking and drug consumption, furious arguments, hurled objects and a deposit of excrement left in a bed — whether by dog or human is disputed.
The Sun‘s defence relies on 14 allegations made by Heard of Depp’s violence between 2013 and 2016, in settings including his private island in the Bahamas, a rented house in Australia during filming of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie — where Depp’s finger was severed in contested circumstances — and the couple’s downtown Los Angeles penthouse, which was trashed during the couple’s altercations.
Wass said that the first year of the relationship, during which Depp was sober, was “idyllic”, but that the violence started in 2013 after he relapsed.
During four days in the witness box last week, Heard claimed Depp flew into jealous rages over her co-stars, including James Franco and Billy Bob Thornton, and turned into a violent alter ego he called “The Monster” under the influence of alcohol and drugs. She accused him of slapping and hitting her and throwing bottles at her “like grenades”, and claimed that she often feared for her life during their relationship.
Wass said that for Depp the “combination … of drink, drugs, jealousy and anger was lethal”.
Heard’s evidence was backed by witnesses including her sister Whitney Henriquez, who said she had seen Depp hit Heard “multiple times” during a fracas at the couple’s LA penthouse in March 2015.
Depp, who gave evidence for almost five days, branded the allegations a “hoax” and claimed Heard was the aggressor during their volatile relationship. He acknowledged using a wide variety of drugs including marijuana, cocaine and opioid painkillers, but denied drugs made him violent.
Depp’s former romantic partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder signed written witness statements saying he had never been violent to them, and several current or former employees gave evidence supporting Depp.
Wass said those witnesses were “tainted” because they relied on Depp for their livelihoods and had “come to court to lie for their boss”.
Summarising the defence case, Wass said that “a deep misogyny … lay at the root of Mr Depp’s anger”.
“He created a misogynistic persona of (Heard) as the stereotype of a nagging woman,” Wass said. She said Depp branded Heard “a gold-digger, a shrew and an adulterer” in order to discredit her. He also used crass language about women in texts to friends that were read out in court — despite his stated aspiration to be a “Southern gentleman”.
Wass said the couple were driven apart by “a clash of cultures and a clash of generations”.
She said Depp glamourised drug culture and had a “clique of ageing male rabble-rousers,” but also aspired “to be the Southern gentleman with a young and beautiful wife”.
Wass said a Southern gentleman required “a supplicant wife” — and Heard, a quarter-century younger than Depp, was not prepared to fulfil that role.
“Ms Heard tolerated the violence and the abuse because she loved Mr Depp and she believed she was capable of getting him better,” the lawyer said — but her attempts to help Depp “banish his Monster” only triggered his resentment.
Depp’s lawyer is due to deliver his closing speech on Tuesday.
For help in a crisis call 000. If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.