Actor Johnny Depp said the couple separated after an argument that followed Heard’s 30th birthday party in April 2016, in a July 13, 2020 story. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

In libel case, Depp says Heard hit him with ‘haymaker’ punch

LONDON — Johnny Depp accused Amber Heard of hitting him with a “haymaker” punch during an altercation near the end of their volatile marriage, as the star wrapped up testimony in his libel suit against a British tabloid newspaper that accused him of domestic abuse.

Depp said the fight came after Heard’s 30th birthday party, and hours after he had learned that his former business managers had absconded with hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Hollywood star is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the paper’s executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that called him a “wife-beater.” He strongly denies abusing Heard.

Depp, 57, and Heard, 34, met on the set of the 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary” and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. Heard, a model and actress, filed for divorce the following year, and the divorce was finalized in 2017.

Depp said the couple separated after an argument that followed Heard’s 30th birthday party in April 2016. The actor said that just before the party he had attended a meeting and been told that his former business managers had “stolen my money.”

Asked how much was stolen, Depp said “this is a ludicrous amount to have to state, it’s quite embarrassing — apparently I had made $650 million,” much of it through his involvement with the ”Pirates of the Caribbean” films.

Depp added that in addition to losing the $650 million he was “$100 million in the hole because they had not paid the government my taxes for 17 years.”

Depp and his former business managers settled a legal dispute over the alleged fraud in 2018.

Depp alleges that after the party he went to bed to read, and that Heard began accusing him of ruining her birthday dinner before throwing a “haymaker” at him.

Depp’s lawyer, David Sherborne, asked him to explain the American slang term for the judge, Andrew Nicol.

“A haymaker is a type of a wild swing, a roundhouse punch … effective if it reaches the target,” Depp said.

“I have come across it,” noted the judge.

Heard is attending the three-week trial and is scheduled to give her own version of events later.

During five days in the witness box, Depp depicted a tumultuous relationship with Heard during a period when he was trying to kick drugs and alcohol, and sometimes lapsing.

He called the relationship “a crime scene waiting to happen.” But he denied hitting Heard and accused her of compiling a dossier of fake claims against him as an “insurance policy.”

The Sun’s defence relies on a total of 14 allegations by Heard of Depp’s violence between 2013 and 2016, in settings including his private island in the Bahamas, a rented house in Australia and a private jet.

Depp was followed into the witness box by his former personal assistant Stephen Deuters, who contradicted Heard’s account of an incident during a flight by private plane from Boston to Los Angeles in May 2014. Heard alleges the actor went into a rage, slapped her and kicked her in the back because he believed she was having an affair with actor James Franco.

Depp has denied assaulting Heard or being out of control.

Deuters, who is now the European head of Depp’s production company, said Depp was quiet and “introverted” on the plane. He said the couple had “an argument of sorts,” but “it didn’t seem to be a screaming-obscenities slanging match.”

In a written witness statement, Deuters said the actor “made a playful attempt to tap (Heard) on the bottom with his shoe” but didn’t kick her.

He also alleged that Heard “was the abuser in the relationship … She had subjected Mr. Depp to years of abuse.”

Depp has strongly denied all of Heard’s allegations, including a claim that he subjected her to a “three-day ordeal of assaults” in March 2015 in Australia, where Depp was appearing as Captain Jack Sparrow in the fifth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film.

He agreed that the couple had an altercation, which ended up with their house being trashed and Depp’s fingertip being severed to the bone.

Depp accuses Heard of cutting off his fingertip by throwing a vodka bottle at him, a claim she denies.

Depp said Monday that he had surgery on the severed finger when he returned to the U.S. and developed a “painful” superbug infection, MRSA.

Depp says the marriage broke down for good after an incident in which he accused Heard or one of her friends of defecating in the couple’s bed after the April 2016 birthday party, a mishap Heard blamed on her Yorkshire terriers.

“I thought that was an oddly fitting end to the relationship,” Depp said Friday.

By The Associated Press

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