Depp's bodyguard admits giving wrong photo to court

London (AFP) –


Johnny Depp's head of security admitted Thursday he submitted the wrong photo to court to show how the Hollywood star's ex-wife Amber Heard had abused her husband and not the other way around.

The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star is suing the publisher and executive editor of Britain's The Sun newspaper over a 2018 story calling him a "wife-beater" who had repeatedly attacked the 34-year-old model and actress.

Both sides are trying to cast the other as the villain in a rocky two-year marriage that ended in an ugly 2017 divorce and several expensive lawsuits.

But eight days of hearings in London's High Court have so far shown the couple fighting almost ceaselessly after extravagant parties filled with copious amounts of drugs.

- 'You are lying' -

Depp's chief bodyguard Sean Bett tried Thursday to support the theory that Heard staged and recorded the fights to advance her career at her husband's expense.

Heard "had sought to argue with (Depp) and had punched him, causing him to sustain visible injury," Bett said in his witness statement.

The accompanying photo showed the 57-year-old actor sporting a red bruise under his left eye.

The alleged incident happened during Heard's 30th birthday party in April 2016.

But Bett admitted under cross-examination that the picture attached to his statement was actually sent to him by one of Depp's lawyers.

Bett said he took a "very similar" photo of Depp with a bruise a year earlier.

Bett added that he could not find the photo from the night in question because he has since lost his phone.

The defence seized on this as proof that Depp's witnesses were knowingly giving false evidence on his behalf.

"You are lying," defence attorney Sasha Wass told Bett.

"You can call me a liar 100 times. I am not lying," Bett replied. "I am telling the truth."

The defence said Heard publicly admitted to hitting Depp during her 30th birthday party -- to protect her sister Whitney.

- Big ticket no-shows -

Depp's case has been supported by his former partner Vanessa Paradis -- a French singer with whom Depp had two children -- and his American ex-fiance Winona Ryder.

Both submitted witness statements but Depp's team on Thursday decided to call on neither because the three-week hearing is taking even longer than planned.

Ryder said in a statement released at a preliminary hearing that she "cannot wrap my head around (Heard's) accusation.

"He was never, never violent toward me. He was never, never abusive toward me."

Paradis also called Heard's version of Depp "nothing like the true Johnny I have known".

Thursday's hearing did try to establish video links with some of the minor characters in the drama based in Los Angeles.

A security guard testified that he saw Heard "vomiting" after a night out. The defence tried to show that it was actually her sister who got sick.

Another security officer could not make it because he was still on shift.

All of which left judge Andrew Nicol sounding slightly overwhelmed.

He ended Thursday's hearing by sternly asking why the two lawyers had submitted so much evidence in the case.

"Do I really have to plough through 12 volumes or can you propose an alternative," he asked.

Depp's lawyer proclaimed innocence and said most of those volumes were produced by Wass.

The defence attorney said she "will take up my lord's invitation" and "happily present a chronology" with a snappy summary for the judge to read at the end.