Johnny Depp lied about how he lost the top of his middle finger “only to protect” his ex-wife Amber Heard, one of the actor’s security guards told the High Court on the sixth day of his blockbuster libel case against The Sun.
Malcolm Connolly, who has worked for Mr Depp and his family for about 16 years, said the 57-year-old Hollywood star was “in emotional distress and panicking” after his finger was severed during an incident in Australia in March 2015.
Giving evidence at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday, Mr Connolly said that when he and another security guard arrived at the property, Mr Depp told him: “She’s cut my f****** finger off. She’s smashed my hand with a vodka bottle.”
The episode in Australia is one of 14 allegations of violent behaviour Ms Heard, 34, has made against Mr Depp which The Sun relies on in its defence of the claim that he was a “wife beater”, made in an April 2018 article.
Ms Heard claims that Mr Depp lost the top of his finger while slamming a telephone against a wall, but the actor says his ex-wife threw a vodka bottle at him which smashed and severed his finger.
The security officer said Ms Heard’s account of the incident bore “no resemblance” to his recollection and that, when he arrived at the house, the actress “did not have any marks on her face or arms”.
He also said that Ms Heard was “absolutely hysterical” and shouted at Mr Depp: “Are you just going to leave it like this, you f****** coward?”
Sasha Wass QC, representing the tabloid’s publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN), said Mr Depp had “come up with a variety of potential explanations to give to other people about how his finger was damaged”.
Mr Connolly said that those explanations were “only to protect Amber”, adding: “The usual victim pattern is to protect the abuser for some reason.”
The former prison officer also claimed that “Ms Heard hitting or slapping Mr Depp” was not a “one-off”, saying that it had happened “in Australia and in Los Angeles”.
Mr Depp’s barrister David Sherborne asked Mr Connolly: “Did you ever witness Mr Depp physically attack or hit Ms Heard at any time?”
Mr Connolly said: “No – and I wouldn’t tolerate any man striking a woman. No matter who he was, I just wouldn’t tolerate that.”
Mr Sherborne asked: “Not even if it was your boss?”
Mr Connolly replied: “Not even if he’s my boss. I don’t care if he’s the pope.”
The court also heard evidence from Tara Roberts, Mr Depp’s estate manager on his island in the Bahamas, who said in her witness statement: “I never saw Johnny, who is an unusually kind man, be violent or aggressive with Amber or anyone else.”
Ms Roberts said that “it was Ms Heard who was the most violent” and described seeing Mr Depp with a “red, swelling gash” on the bridge of his nose after Ms Heard had apparently thrown a can of lacquer thinner at his face.
She also claimed that Ms Heard hurled insults at Mr Depp, calling him “washed up” and “fat”, and was aggressive towards the actor during a Christmas visit to the Bahamas in 2015.
Samantha McMillen, Mr Depp’s stylist since 2002 who also worked for Ms Heard during the couple’s relationship, gave evidence that she saw “no visible” injuries the day after Mr Depp allegedly attacked Ms Heard in December 2015.
She said Ms Heard said to her after taping James Corden’s The Late Late Show on December 16 2015: “Can you believe I just did that show with two black eyes?”
Ms McMillen said in her witness statement: “Ms Heard did not have any black eyes, and had been visibly uninjured throughout the day and at that moment.”
The stylist gave evidence of seeing Ms Heard in a “chance encounter” on May 24 2016, three days after the Pirates Of The Caribbean star is alleged to have thrown his ex-wife’s own mobile phone at her and hit her in the eye.
She said that on that occasion: “Ms Heard was not wearing make-up. There were no visible marks, bruises, cuts, or injuries to her face or any other part of her body.”
The court finally heard evidence from Hilda Vargas, Mr Depp’s housekeeper in Los Angeles for more than 30 years, who was asked about the “defecation incident” – when she found faeces in Mr Depp and Ms Heard’s bed after the actress’ 30th birthday party on April 21 2016.
Ms Heard claims that one of their two small Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, were responsible, but Mr Depp has said he was “convinced” that it was Ms Heard “or one of her cohort” who defecated in the bed.
Ms Vargas said that she was “horrified and disgusted” to find “a large pile of faeces” in the bed – and that “it was clear to me” that it was human faeces “because of the size”.
In her witness statement, Ms Vargas said: “I knew that the faeces could not have come from either of Mr Depp’s or Ms Heard’s two small dogs.
“I have cleaned up after those dogs many times and their faeces are much smaller.”
Giving evidence through a Spanish interpreter from the US, Ms Vargas said she was “angry” and thought it showed a “lack of respect”, adding that she took photographs of the faeces and sent them to Mr Depp’s estate manager, Kevin Murphy.
Ms Vargas said she also saw Ms Heard on May 24 2016 and that she did not see “any bruise, any mark, any injury” on her face.
Mr Depp is suing NGN and The Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton over the publication of an article on April 27 2018 with the headline: “Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”
His lawyers say the article bore the meaning there was “overwhelming evidence” Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard on a number of occasions and left her “in fear for her life”.
NGN is defending the article as true, and says Mr Depp was “controlling and verbally and physically abusive towards Ms Heard, particularly when he was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs”.
On Wednesday, the court is expected to hear from Ben King, Mr Depp’s former estate manager and Kevin Murphy, Mr Depp’s current estate manager.
Mr Depp’s former partner Winona Ryder is due to give evidence from the US on Wednesday afternoon, as are actress and #MeToo advocate Katherine Kendall – who claims Mr Wootton “misquoted” her in the April 2018 article – and Kate James, Ms Heard’s former personal assistant.