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Security guard 'cooked up lie' about Johnny Depp losing his finger 'to protect Amber'
14 July 2020, 14:20
A member of Johnny Depp's security team has told the High Court that he "came up with potential explanations" about how Johnny Depp lost the tip of his finger "to protect Amber Heard".
The member of Depp's security said the actor was "in emotional distress and panicking" after his finger was severed during an incident in Australia.
The episode, in March 2015, is one of 14 allegations of violent behaviour Amber Heard has made against her former husband which are at the centre of his libel claim against The Sun newspaper.
Malcolm Connolly, who has worked for Mr Depp and his family for about 16 years, said in a witness statement that when he and another security guard arrived at the property, the Hollywood star told him: "Look at my finger.
"She's cut my f***ing finger off. She's smashed my hand with a vodka bottle."
Mr Connolly said the actor also told him Ms Heard had put a cigarette out on his face, and he saw a mark.
Sasha Wass QC, representing The Sun's publisher News Group Newspapers, 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".
He added that the story that Mr Depp had trapped the finger in the "accordion doors" in the house was "my story".
Ms Wass asked: "You cooked up that lie, did you?"
Mr Connolly said: "Yes."
The security guard said the team knew the true cause of Mr Depp's injury would "create extremely bad publicity" and that Mr Judge suggested they should say at hospital that the actor had injured his finger while slicing onions.
Mr Connolly said: "I thought it was fairly obvious that this was not true given the severity of the injury and suggested we say he jammed it into a car door.
"However we went with the onion cover story. The specialist didn't believe us for one second."
Mr Connolly said that after he arrived at the house in Australia in March 2015, Mr Depp was "having a conversation with me, straight as a die".
Ms Wass asked if Mr Depp appeared to be rational, to which the personal security guard said: "I don't know about rational because he was in shock."
The barrister then asked if Mr Depp appeared to have taken drugs, and whether Mr Connolly was "familiar with what he was like when he took drugs".
Mr Connolly said: "I'm never privy to that sort of behaviour... I have never seen it."
Ms Wass suggested: "He was absolutely filthy, wasn't he? Untidy... covered in blood and paint and dirt and he was dishevelled and didn't appear as if he had washed. He was properly filthy?"
Mr Connolly said that was not the case.
Ms Wass suggested to Mr Connolly that his evidence in his witness statement - that Mr Depp told him, "she's cut my f****** finger off. She's smashed my hand with a vodka bottle" - was not true.
Mr Connolly replied: "I can only say I was there, I witnessed it."
The security officer also 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".
"I was much more concerned about Johnny. He was obviously in emotional distress and panicking. He wasn't that drunk or out of it though and was easily standing on his own and having a conversation," he continued.
He explained he got to the property at about 1.30pm after receiving an urgent call from the head of Mr Depp's security team Jerry Judge, now deceased, who told him: "Malcolm, get in the car, extract the boss from the situation."
Mr Connolly said: "I could hear the ruckus inside. I opened the door, which wasn't locked, and saw Johnny in the foyer area of the house.
"He and Amber were screaming at each other. She was wearing a sort of green silk night thing, you might call it a slip.
"I shouted at Johnny words to the effect of 'Come with me, you are coming with me'.
"I then took his arm trying to move him out, but he broke away. I said again words to the effect of 'Johnny, come with me'. It wasn't easy but I did get him outside.
"I had the car door open and when we were outside Johnny said to me words to the effect of 'Look at my finger. She's cut my f***ing finger off. She's smashed my hand with a vodka bottle'. I saw his finger and it was a mess."
Mr Connolly's statement continued: "Amber appeared at the door and then came close to the car, screaming and crying, calling out words along the lines of 'Are you just going to leave it like this, you f***ing coward?'
"Then she was saying 'I love you, I love you. Is this how you are going to end this?'.
"She was not making a lot of sense - one second she was begging Johnny not to leave the house and then she was screaming at him for running away.
"She was absolutely hysterical. I was worried that she might start throwing objects at Johnny, or at myself, as I had seen her throw objects before.
"For example, I had seen her lob a fork in Johnny's general direction once; another time I recall she threw a lighter at him, another time a can of coke.
"I knew that we needed to get out of there as soon as possible."
He said Mr Depp did not go back to the house over the next few days and stayed at Mr Connolly's apartment with him instead.
Mr Connolly's evidence came on day six of the trial of the actor's libel claim against The Sun newspaper over an April 2018 article which labelled him a "wife beater".
The Pirates Of The Caribbean star, 57, is suing the tabloid's publisher News Group Newspapers (NGN) and its 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, 34, on a number of occasions and left her "in fear for her life".
Ms Heard claims that, during the incident in Australia, she was subjected to a "three-day hostage situation" during which Mr Depp drank to excess and took pills.
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".
Later on Tuesday, the court is due to hear evidence from Tara Roberts, the property manager at Mr Depp's Bahamas home, Ms Heard's assistant Savannah McMillan, and Hilda Vargas, Mr Depp's housekeeper at his Los Angeles properties.
Depp denies allegations of violence against him. The trial continues.