By JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA
LONDON (AP) – Johnny Depp's defamation case against a British tabloid accused of abusing ex-wife Amber Heard ended Tuesday. The star's lawyer insisted that Depp had never beaten a woman and branded Heard as an "obsessive liar".
The star "Pirates of the Caribbean" sued News Group Newspapers, the editor of The Sun, and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, Dan Wootton, at the High Court in London for an article in April 2018 in which he was referred to as the "thug".
In the final arguments of the three-week trial, Depp's lawyer David Sherborne said the actor had emphatically denied "this call-destroying, career-ending claim".
"He's never beaten a woman in his life – period, period, Nada," Sherborne said.
Judge Andrew Nicol will later retire to review his verdict. He will probably make his decision in a few weeks.
WHAT WILL THE JUDGE DECIDE?
Neither Depp nor Heard are on trial, although it was easy to forget that in a case that dismantled their toxic celebrity love affair.
Depp is the applicant in civil proceedings, NGN and Wootton are the accused, and Heard is their primary witness. To thwart Depp's defamation claim, the newspaper must convince the judge that the story was correct in the balance of probabilities.
NGN lawyer Sasha Wass said in a summary that there is no doubt that Depp "regularly and systematically abuses his wife" and that the "Ms. Bat" label was warranted.
But Sherborne said The Sun's article – the J.K. Rowling, who released Depp from the film version of her book "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them", gave the false impression that Depp was "tried, convicted and sentenced" for domestic violence and compared him to former film mogul Harvey Weinstein. who was arrested for sex offenses.
"As judges and jurors, the accused clearly state that Mr. Depp is guilty of a number of serious and violent crimes," he said.
What is controversial?
The two sides agree that the relationship between Depp and Heard, which began after they met on the set of the 2011 comedy "The Rum Diary", got sour long before their divorce in 2017. Texts, emails and records testify to the increasingly bitter relationship between Depp, now 57, and the 34-year-old model and the actress.
But they disagree about who started and escalated their struggles.
Heard claims that Depp, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, turned into a violent alter ego, which he called "The Monster". She claims 14 different incidents in which he hit, hit and bumped her, pulled her hair and threw bottles at her "like grenades". The judge was shown photos of Heard with black eyes, red spots on the face, and an injured scalp – alleged evidence of Depp's violence.
Depp called the allegations a "joke," claiming that Heard hit him and even severed his fingertip with a vodka bottle. In cross-examination, Depp admitted that he had hit Head in the head during a fight, but said it was a coincidence that he tried to stop her from beating him.
Heard admitted to having a short temper and said she hit Depp once in March 2015. But she said it should prevent him from beating her sister.
Sherborne accused Heard of having repeatedly changed her story during the trial, saying that during a "moment of malicious malevolence" on the witness stand, she made up a rumor that Depp had pushed former friend Kate Moss down a flight of stairs.
The lawyer said Heard was "a totally unreliable witness and frankly a compulsive liar – and I don't say that lightly."
WHAT DID WE LEARN?
The process has taken an accurate and often unflattering look at Hollywood's fame, revealing details of Depp's life full of wealth, luxury, emotional turmoil, and drug abuse.
Depp admitted heavy drug use, saying he took marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and magic mushrooms and became addicted to opioid pain relievers. But he denied that drugs made him violent.
The couple's relationship dissolved against a glamorous international background. Heard said Depp's private island in the Bahamas, a penthouse in Los Angeles, a luxury train, and a private jet were places of violence.
Depp said on the witness stand that he had earned $ 650 million since joining the lucrative "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise – and incurred $ 100 million in debt after his financial advisors failed to pay his taxes for 17 years. He said his main expenses included $ 5 million to launch the ashes of his literary hero, drug-addicted journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
The couple's relationship also left a costly trail of destruction. The damage to a rented home in Australia after a dispute has been estimated at more than $ 100,000. The downtown LA penthouse was destroyed in another dispute. At one point, excrement was left in her bed – whether by a dog or a person is controversial.
Who are the winners and losers?
The UK defamation law is generally believed to favor applicants over defendants, but Depp could be a loser even if he wins.
Depp said he sued The Sun because Heard's accusations affected his career. But the lawsuit has brought the claims to a huge global audience.
"It's almost a belief that every sensible person has brought this case to court," said Mark Stephens, media lawyer at the Howard Kennedy law firm. "Now I know that a lot of people say it's just about justification. It's about proving that he's not a racket. But there is a lot at stake for everyone. And at a certain level, mud sticks are sticking."
Heard has also questioned its character and has been accused of fabricating evidence. A # MeToo activist, Katherine Kendall, claimed that Heard had used a violent rape that Kendall had suffered for her own ends.
Heard has been abused on social media by Depp fans. Depp's followers were also regularly heard aloud in court, with some signs saying "Justice for Johnny".
WILL THIS DIFICATE BE THE END OF HISTORY?
Unlikely. Depp sued Heard in Virginia for a Washington Post story of $ 50 million domestic violence. The process is scheduled to take place next year.
Stephens said that if Depp "loses in London, it is almost certain that he will lose this American case. So in a way it is a dress rehearsal for the second case."