Johnny Depp libel trial day 3: Actor claims Amber Heard withheld medication

Johnny Depp libel trial day 3: Actor claims Amber Heard withheld medication


Johnny Depp is being cross-examined for the third day in his libel trial against The Sun’s publisher News Group Newspapers.

The 57-year-old’s libel trial began on Tuesday, in relation to an April 2018 column from The Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton which referred to the actor as a ‘wife beater’.

Depp has denied all allegations that he abused ex-wife Amber Heard, alleging that the actress was abusive towards him – claims the 34-year-old denies.

NGN’s defence relies on 14 alleged instances of domestic violence, all denied by Depp.

On Thursday, NGN’s lawyer Sasha Wass QC questioned Mr Depp about a detox trip on his private island in the Bahamas in August 2014, telling the court that Mr Depp and Ms Heard, then engaged, were on one side of the island and a nurse, Debbie Lloyd, was staying on the other side.

Referring to a page of text messages in evidence, she said: ‘All the way through this document it is clear that Ms Heard is the one maintaining contact with Debbie Lloyd and is effectively looking after you. She is effectively dedicating herself to your wellbeing during this detoxification, wasn’t she?’

Mr Depp replied: ‘Yes, she was trying to help me’, with Ms Wass suggesting that Ms Heard was ‘effectively acting as your nurse’.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star said: ‘She was in control of the meds, she was in control of when I was taking the meds, she would give me the time to take the meds.’

Mr Depp added: ‘I don’t know that she explicitly followed the orders of the registered nurse to the letter.’

In his witness statement, Mr Depp claimed that Amber Heard ‘often intervened and withheld medicine from me’ while the pair were on the island, which he described as ‘one of the cruellest things that she has ever done’.

Ms Wass said: ‘The idea of a detoxification process is you come off drugs. She was withholding drugs that you were not supposed to have.’

The barrister read a text from Ms Heard to Depp’s nurse which said: ‘Issue has arisen again. He took the meds about 30 minutes ago. He was so mad he pushed me and I asked him to get out. Don’t know what to do. Sorry to keep at you guys.’

Ms Wass asked Mr Depp if he remembered the detox being ‘so difficult you started flipping?’, with Mr Depp replying: ‘I remember that I was in a great deal of pain and uncontrollable spasms … if they are not taken care of immediately there is not much you can do. So flipping would be a word that is correct.’

Mr Depp denied pushing and hitting Ms Heard, saying: ‘I didn’t push Ms Heard or attack her in any way, as certainly I was not in any condition to do so. I can only say, from my point of view, I was in no physical condition to push anyone.’

He repeated his allegation that Ms Heard’s allegations were part of an ‘insurance policy’.

Ms Wass read a text exchange between Mr Depp and his former mother-in-law Paige Heard, sent during the detox trip.

Ms Heard wrote: ‘I know that it doesn’t feel like things will ever get better, but I promise you they will. You’ve gotten through the hardest part, it may be hard to see, but you will be so glad to have this gorilla off of your back.

‘I’ve seen the hell this addiction brings and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. You are a big wonderful man to break the cycle. Please let me know if I can help in any way. All my love.’

Mr Depp’s reply, as read by Ms Wass, said: ‘My dearest Paige, how unbelievably kind and pure your message was. I am beyond thankful to have you in my life. There is no luckier man on this earth.

‘To have the strength that Amber gives me and the full support of each of you, individually, that I’ve gotten helps immeasurably. I don’t need to explain the horrors to you, you know as well as I.

‘What you do need to know is that your daughter has risen far above the nightmarish task of taking care of this poor old junkie. Never a second has gone by that she didn’t look out for me or have her eyes on me to make sure that I was OK.

‘My words are truly feeble in attempting to explain her heroism in a text – suffice to say that I have never met or loved a woman or a thing more. She has the strength of a thousand men, and that is due to no one or nothing but you sweetheart. Thank you, I love you.’

The message continued: ‘I couldn’t have made it without he. I would have gone for a swim and swallowed a big drink of ocean without her, to be honest.

‘It was a hell of my own doing that your little girl walked through with me step by step. I know you’re already proud of her, but if you’d have seen her in action – amazing. It was an exercise of monumental patience and instinct. I wouldn’t be alive, sweetheart.

‘There were more than a few times when I thought it would be more simple to take that route. It was Amber and Amber only that got me through this, and it was not easy.’

Ms Wass then read out a text sent by Mr Depp to his then fiancee, reading: ‘Thank you so much for getting me f****** clean baby.’

The barrister said that Mr Depp’s claim that his medication was being withheld by Ms Heard was not substantiated by any evidence, with the actor saying: ‘I can say that there were incidents where, for example, the time allotted for me to take my medication by the nurse or by Ms Heard was 4pm on that date.

‘My body clock was needing medication to stop the onslaught… I was not in good shape. For someone this low… it is the lowest point I believe I have ever been in my life… on the floor, sobbing like a child and had still not received the medicine.’

He called the process of drug withdrawal ‘agonising’. 

Medical notes by Depp’s private doctor David Kipper were read out by Ms Wass, saying that the star ‘romanticises the entire drug culture and has no accountability for his behaviour’ and ‘There is also an issue of patience. He is driven almost reflexively by his id. He has no patience for not getting his needs met. He has no understanding of delayed gratification and is quite childlike in his reaction when he doesn’t get immediate satisfaction.’

Mr Depp said: ‘We had all just met, Dr Kipper and myself and Ms Heard and Nurse Lloyd, so they were not versed in our lives, our life together, as yet.’

Ms Heard was referred to another doctor, Dr Connell Cowan, by Dr Kipper after he treated her for anxiety, and Dr Cowan wrote in medical notes: ‘JD is very threatened by career, particularly any kind of romantic scenes she has to do. Her movie with JF (James Franco) precipitated a binge that put JD in the hospital.

‘Everyone around J seems to be intimidated by his power and money. No one stands up to him.’

Ms Wass asked: ‘Can you think of any reason why Ms Heard would have said that to Dr Cowan unless it was true?’, with Mr Depp saying: ‘I believe it had a benefit to her motivation. I think she was telling porky pies with her psychiatrist.’

Ms Wass then read from medical notes from 22 September, which recorded that Mr Depp was found ‘sitting in the kitchen with scraped and bloodied knuckles’ after punching a wall during an argument with Ms Heard.

The barrister said: ‘It seems to be how you are expressing your anger yet again’, with Mr Depp replying: ‘I would rather express my anger by hitting an inanimate object than… the person I love.’

Ms Wass said: ‘There are times when you don’t even remember the conduct that you were responsible for, you blacked out on many, many occasions’, with the Edward Scissorhands star replying: ‘There were blackouts for sure, but in any blackout there are snippets of memory.’

Other medical notes dated 14 October, about an incident Depp did not recall, read: ‘Patient finished filming, was screaming agitated leaving the set.

‘Patient kicked door of his trailer and refused to speak to the director. Verbally aggressive to another person on the set for no apparent reason.’

The court was played a clip of Mr Depp at the Hollywood Film Awards in November 2014, which saw the Cry Baby star stumbling and speaking almost unintelligibly.

Mr Depp said he had not been drinking but was on Xanax and ‘very strong’ medication, and told Ms Wass: ‘I can tell you I was still in the throes of the kick. I’m not ashamed of that moment because, to be honest with you, that’s a sick man.’

Mr Depp was asked about a trip to Tokyo in January 2015 with Ms Heard and his two children Lily-Rose and Jack, with Ms Wass suggesting he was using drugs.

He said: ‘I was not. Especially travelling with my children… I am not one to smuggle cocaine or green cannabis or any such substance into Japan, especially not with my children on the trip with us.’

The barrister alleged that Mr Depp was violent towards Ms Heard in their hotel room and had wrestled her to the floor, to which he responded: ‘That is incorrect. It is not true and certainly not when my children were in adjoining rooms.’

It was then claimed that when the actor had calmed down, he told Ms Heard it was ‘the monster’ and the monster had now gone.

Mr Depp confirmed that he would use the term ‘the monster’ to placate his ex, saying: ‘Yes, that is what she liked to hear, it was placation.

‘When you are with someone who cannot be wrong, you must devise a way to communicate with them that does not spur some monstrous argument or hideous attack or verbal abuse… it is like speaking to a child.’

Ms Wass said: ‘It was a very complex relationship with Ms Heard, there was a lot of anger on one level… but there was also a very close connection and a very deep love between the two of you’, with Mr Depp saying: ‘It felt so at the time, yes. It was complicated.’

The actor was asked about pre and post-nuptial agreements, with Ms Wass telling the court that according to Californian divorce laws, a wife is entitled to 50% of her husband’s wealth.

Mr Depp said: ‘She was unwilling to sign a pre-nup, my attorneys tried for Ms Heard to sign a post-nuptial agreement, which she said she was fine to do. She said she was fine to sign a pre-nup too but it never happened.’

Ms Wass began outlining one of the 14 allegations of violence Amber Heard has made against her ex-husband in the case, which is said to have occurred during a trip to Australia in March 2015.

The barrister said Ms Heard alleges there was a ‘three-day ordeal of assaults, during which you were under the influence of drugs including MDMA and you were violent’.

Mr Depp said: ‘I vehemently deny it and would go so far as to say it is pedestrian fiction.’

While texts between Mr Depp and his assistant before the trip signalled that he was looking for cocaine and MDMA, he said he did not recall being in possession of the drugs.

Timeline of Johnny Depp’s libel trial


– 8 March: Mr Depp allegedly tries to set fire to a painting by Ms Heard’s ex-partner Tasya van Ree before he is said to have attacked her for the first time, which the actor denies.

– 3 February: The couple marry in a private ceremony at their home in Los Angeles.

– 3-5 March: The key incident in The Sun’s defence, the three-day trip to Australia has been described by Ms Heard as a ‘three-day hostage situation’ in which Mr Depp was allegedly physically and verbally abusive while drinking heavily and taking drugs.

Mr Depp denies the allegations and says Ms Heard lost her temper after a conversation about a post-nuptial agreement.

– 21 April: The couple arrive in Australia with their pet Yorkshire Terriers Boo and Pistol, which they did not declare to customs officials in Queensland. Ms Heard was charged later with bringing the dogs into the country illegally – the charges were later dropped and the pair later recorded a bizarre video apologising for bringing their dogs to Australia.


– Around 22 May: The pair separated, Ms Heard claims after an incident at their LA penthouse in which Mr Depp allegedly became very angry and destroyed property with a bottle of champagne.

– 23 May: Ms Heard files petition for the dissolution of their marriage.

– 27 May: Ms Heard applies for a temporary domestic violence restraining order, which prevents Mr Depp from contacting her.

– 16 August: The estranged couple reach an agreement concerning the dissolution of their marriage. Ms Heard later donates her seven million US dollar (£5.5 million) settlement to charity.


– 13 January: The couple are formally divorced.


– 27 April: The column by The Sun’s executive editor Dan Wootton is published online at around 10pm. Under the headline “Gone Potty – How can JK Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”, Mr Wootton asked if the Harry Potter author had been ‘blinded by a personal friendship’ with Mr Depp.

The piece also quoted two alleged victims of disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, which Mr Depp says was included to ‘finish his career’.

– 28 April: The following day, the online article is amended to remove the words ‘wife beater’ from the headline, which was not included in the print edition.

– 1 June: Mr Depp files his libel claim against News Group Newspapers. His written claim, filed a few weeks later, claims the article ‘caused serious harm to (his) personal and professional reputation’ and also caused him ‘significant distress and embarrassment’.

– 18 December: The Washington Post publishes an op-ed by Ms Heard which did not mention Mr Depp by name, but said that the actress ‘became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out’.


– 27 February: Mr Depp fights off a bid to halt his English legal action after The Sun applies for his claim to be ‘stayed unless and until’ the star confirmed in writing that he would not sue Ms Heard if she participated in a forthcoming trial.

– 1 March: Mr Depp files a libel case against Ms Heard in Virginia, blaming the Washington Post piece for Mr Depp being dropped from the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise and claiming that Ms Heard was the one who had been abusive towards him.


– 26 February: Johnny Depp attends the High Court in London for a preliminary hearing ahead of a trial which was due to begin the following month. The star heard NGN’s barrister Adam Wolanski read out texts sent by Mr Depp, including one from November 2013 to actor Paul Bettany, in which Mr Depp wrote: ‘Let’s burn Amber.’

He also wrote: ‘Let’s drown her before we burn her!!! I will f*** her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she is dead.’

– 20 March: The trial, which was due to begin on 23 March, is postponed due to the global coronavirus crisis. NGN’s lawyers had claimed Mr Depp wanted to delay the trial ‘because he’s a coward and because he knows he’s going to lose’, which was denied by Mr Depp’s legal team.

– 8 April: Mr Justice Nicol rules that parts of Ms Heard’s evidence, relating to allegations of sexual violence, will be heard in private.

– 13 May: The court gives permission for Mr Depp’s former partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder – who both say Mr Depp was ‘never violent’ to them – to give evidence. Ms Heard’s former personal assistant Kate James is also permitted to give evidence.

– 25 June: NGN asks the court to throw out Mr Depp’s claim just two weeks before trial over the star’s failure to disclose text messages of him apparently trying to buy drugs in Australia in 2015. The publisher’s lawyers say Mr Depp deliberately withheld text messages they say show him trying to obtain ‘MDMA and other narcotics’.

– 29 June: Mr Justice Nicol rules that Mr Depp did breach a court order by not disclosing documents from separate libel proceedings against Ms Heard in the US – which include the text messages. But Mr Depp’s lawyers argue that it would be ‘wholly disproportionate’ to strike out the actor’s libel claim.

– 2 July: The High Court rules Mr Depp’s claim can go ahead after granting his application for ‘relief from sanctions’ for the breach of a court order.

– 4 July: The trial judge, Mr Justice Nicol refuses an application by Mr Depp’s lawyers to exclude Ms Heard from court until she gives evidence.

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