The High Court ruling on Johnny Depp’s libel claim has found that the actor assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard on a dozen occasions.
News Group Newspapers (NGN) originally relied on two alleged incidents of domestic violence during the marriage, on April 21 and May 21 2016, but eventually added other allegations to their pleaded defence.
In Monday’s ruling, Mr Justice Nicol concluded that “the great majority of alleged assaults of Ms Heard by Mr Depp have been proved to the civil standard”.
But he said he was “not persuaded” that an alleged “incident of violence” in Los Angeles in December 2014 “constituted a physical assault of Ms Heard by Mr Depp”, and that he could not rule an alleged incident in LA in November 2015 had been proven because it was not put to Mr Depp in cross-examination.
Here are the details of the 14 allegations relied on by NGN, and the judge’s findings in each.
– 1. Early 2013
Ms Heard says Mr Depp was completely sober until early 2013, and around that time he allegedly hit her for the first time when they were in Los Angeles.
The court hears that this allegedly happened after Ms Heard joked about a tattoo Mr Depp had done on his arm during his relationship with actress Winona Ryder, which originally read “Winona Forever”, but was altered to “Wino Forever” after they split.
She claims Mr Depp later cried and apologised, telling her that he sometimes turns into “the monster” when he snaps.
Mr Depp has “expressly denied” hitting Ms Heard and said that, around early 2013, he had “confined himself to drinking wine and using marijuana, having been sober from around December 2011 to August 2012”.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Nicol says he accepts Ms Heard’s evidence that Mr Depp used the term “the monster” to “refer to that part of his personality when, affected by drink and/or drugs he would do things which he would not otherwise do and of which he might have no recollection after”.
The judge concludes that this incident did occur.
– 2. March 2013
Ms Heard claims Mr Depp was angry she had hung up a painting by her ex-partner Tasya Van Ree by her bed in her LA home, then tried to set the painting on fire and hit her “so hard that blood from her lip ended up on the wall”.
Mr Depp, however, says he simply asked Ms Heard to move the painting from the bedroom “as a courtesy” and that she had an “extreme reaction”. He says he did not hit her at all.
He also says a text he later sent describing the evening as a “disco bloodbath” was to “placate Ms Heard” and not an apology for alleged violence.
Mr Justice Nicol concluded that Mr Depp “did assault” Ms Heard as she and NGN alleged in this incident.
– 3. June 2013
Ms Heard and Mr Depp were in Hicksville, US, with a group of people including Ms Heard’s sister Whitney and Mr Depp’s assistant Nathan Holmes.
Ms Heard says Mr Depp, who was “taking drugs”, became “enraged” and “jealous” when one of her friends touched her, and he then threw glasses at her, ripped her dress and damaged the cabin they were staying in.
Mr Depp says he drank and took magic mushrooms, as did Ms Heard and her friends who also took MDMA.
He claims Ms Heard’s friend touched Ms Heard in an “extremely sexual manner” and he spoke to her to ask her to stop, but denies throwing or smashing glasses, or ripping Ms Heard’s dress.
Mr Justice Nicol concludes that in the course of Mr Depp and Ms Heard’s argument, the actor “caused significant damage to the trailer”.
He says “the argument and damage to property are symptomatic of Mr Depp’s manner when ‘the monster’ side of his personality was dominant”.
The judge notes that he addresses another aspect of this incident in a confidential annex to his ruling in which he “does not accept the further allegations made by Ms Heard in relation to this incident”.
– 4. May 24 2014
The pair took a private plane from Boston to LA: Ms Heard says that during the flight, Mr Depp, who had been drinking heavily, threw objects at her, pushed a chair at her, slapped her and kicked her in the back before passing out in the toilet.
Mr Depp says Ms Heard “began to harangue him” as he was sketching in a notebook, he then tried to “playfully tap her on the bottom with his foot”, at which Ms Heard took “great offence” and “continued to verbally berate” him.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Nicol finds that in the course of the flight, Mr Depp “managed to kick Ms Heard on her back or bottom”, adding “this was more than a ‘playful tap’” and contrary to what Mr Depp and his former personal assistant Stephen Deuters had said in evidence.
The judge also said he “did not accept” Mr Depp’s claim that he “simply chose to sleep in the toilet to get away from Ms Heard”, saying he passed out “at some stage” due to “alcohol and drug consumption”.
– 5. August 2014
The couple went to the Bahamas, Mr Depp says to “cure his dependence on painkillers”, although Ms Heard claims he was trying to give up other drugs too.
Ms Heard says Mr Depp had “several manic episodes” and his private doctor had to be flown over to help.
She alleges that he slapped, kicked and grabbed her by the hair during an attack.
Mr Depp alleges Ms Heard stopped a nurse from giving him treatment while he was going through withdrawal.
Mr Justice Nicol concludes that Mr Depp’s feelings towards Ms Heard “vacillated wildly” during the trip, and at times he was “extremely fond of her and grateful to her” while at other times “he imagined that she was the cause of his pain and that her actions increased his torment”.
The judge finds that it is “more likely than not that Mr Depp did push Ms Heard on at least one occasion”, but adds “I am not able to conclude whether there was more than this one assault”.
– 6. December 17 2014
Ms Heard says Mr Depp was “violent towards” her in LA, and later texted calling himself a “f****** savage” and a “lunatic”.
Mr Depp denies any allegation of violence and says NGN has “failed to provide any particulars of the alleged violence”.
The judge concludes that he is “not persuaded” that this alleged incident “constituted a physical assault of Ms Heard by Mr Depp”.
– 7. January 25 2015
While the couple were in Tokyo, Japan, Ms Heard claims Mr Depp shoved and slapped her and grabbed her by the hair, before standing over her and shouting while she was on the floor – which Mr Depp denies.
Mr Justice Nicol concludes that Mr Depp “did assault Ms Heard as she and the defendants have alleged” in this incident.
– 8. March 2015
Mr Depp is said to have repeatedly assaulted Ms Heard after an argument over his alleged use of MDMA during a three-day trip to Australia. She says he stayed up all night, taking pills and drinking, and then attacked her again the next morning.
Ms Heard says that the following night, Mr Depp pushed her into a table tennis table, tore off her nightgown and attacked her, before smashing a telephone into a wall and severing the top of his middle finger.
She also claims he had written messages to her around the house in a mixture of paint and blood from his finger, which Mr Depp admits doing while “in shock”, as well as having “urinated all over the house in an attempt to write messages”, which he denies.
Mr Depp says Ms Heard was in “a prolonged and extreme rage” following an argument over a post-nuptial agreement. He says he broke his sobriety, after not having had a drink in more than a year, with several glasses of vodka.
He claims Ms Heard threw a bottle at him, severing the top of his finger, and stubbed a cigarette out on his cheek. He denies being violent towards her.
Mr Justice Nicol says in his ruling that “a very considerable amount of damage” was done to the house in Queensland, Australia, and says he “does not accept” Mr Depp’s evidence that it was Ms Heard who caused the damage, or the majority of it.
He also says he does not accept that Ms Heard was responsible for the injury to Mr Depp’s finger, adding “what exactly caused the injury is uncertain” and it “may well be that Mr Depp accidentally cut his finger on a piece of broken glass”.
The judge finds: “Ms Heard’s description of the days in Australia as akin to a hostage situation was something of a hyperbole.
“She was not being kept in the house against her will. The house was set back on a long drive, but there were people around. Ms Heard had a mobile phone. She agreed in cross-examination that she could have contacted anyone. In the accidentally recorded conversation she spoke of phoning her sister. Ms Heard could have left the house.”
But Mr Justice Nicol adds: “Yet taking all the evidence together, I accept that she was the victim of sustained and multiple assaults by Mr Depp in Australia.
“It is a sign of the depth of his rage that he admitted scrawling graffiti in blood from his injured finger and then, when that was insufficient, dipping his badly injured finger in paint and continuing to write messages and other things.
“I accept her evidence of the nature of the assaults he committed against her. They must have been terrifying. I accept that Mr Depp put her in fear of her life.”
The judge also said he accepted the further allegation set out in the confidential annex.
– 9. March 2015
Ms Heard says Mr Depp became “enraged” when they were in LA with her sister and began destroying things in the house before hitting her “hard and repeatedly”. She also claims he tried to push her sister down the stairs before hitting Ms Heard again.
Mr Depp, however, says Ms Heard was “berating him in a rage” as he tried to leave, threw a can of Red Bull at him and punched him in the face before he finally left.
The ruling says that Ms Heard alleged this argument started because she “discovered text messages which she said showed he (Mr Depp) had been cheating on her” and she confronted him.
Mr Justice Nicol says “it is no part of my function to decide whether Mr Depp was having an affair” any more than it is his job to decide if Ms Heard had been having affairs – which was alleged during the trial and she denied.
He concludes that in this case, Mr Depp “did assault Ms Heard” as she and NGN alleged.
– 10. August 2015
While they were on the Eastern and Oriental Express in South East Asia, Ms Heard alleges Mr Depp “picked a fight” with her, hit her and pushed her against a wall by the throat, “causing her to fear for her life” – which is denied by Mr Depp.
The judge says he “accepts that Ms Heard was assaulted by Mr Depp as she and the defendants have alleged”.
– 11. November 26 2015
In LA, Mr Depp is alleged to have ripped Ms Heard’s shirt and “threw her around the room”, also throwing a wine glass and a “heavy glass decanter” at her, as well as pushing her over a chair which caused her to bang her head against a wall.
Mr Depp says they were in LA for Thanksgiving, but denies any allegation of abuse.
Mr Justice Nicol says he does not accept that this incident is proven as it had not been put to Mr Depp in cross-examination.
– 12. December 15 2015
Ms Heard claims Mr Depp threw a decanter at her in their penthouse in LA, then slapped her and dragged her through the apartment by her hair, allegedly pulling “large chunks of hair” from Ms Heard’s scalp.
She says he then followed her upstairs and pushed her to the floor while shouting “you think you’re a f****** tough guy” before headbutting her.
Ms Heard says that when she told Mr Depp she wanted to leave him, he grabbed her and screamed: “I f****** will kill you – I’ll f****** kill you, you hear me?”
It is alleged that during this incident, Mr Depp wrote a message on the kitchen countertop in gold pen saying: “Why be a fraud? All is such bullshit.”
Mr Depp, though, denies the allegations, saying “Ms Heard fabricated the alleged violence”, falsely claiming that “blonde hair on the floor was her hair”.
He also claims that “the only violence committed on that date was by Ms Heard”, who allegedly “violently attacked” him.
Mr Justice Nicol concludes that the couple had an argument on December 15, and that “it is more probable than not that on this occasion, as on others, Mr Depp was under the influence of alcohol and/or controlled drugs”.
The argument was “not just verbal; it became physical”, the judge’s ruling says, finding that “Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard”.
– 13. April 21 2016
Ms Heard says Mr Depp arrived at her birthday party at their LA home late, “drunk and high on drugs”, and they had an argument after the guests had left.
She claims he threw a bottle of champagne at her, which hit a wall, and threw a glass of wine over her.
The actress claims Mr Depp then grabbed her by the shoulders, pushed her on to a bed and blocked the door when she tried to leave. She alleges he grabbed her by the hair and shoved her to the floor, screaming and threatening her.
She alleges that after being violent towards her, he “stormed out of the apartment”, leaving a note reading: “Happy F****** Birthday.”
Mr Depp says he arrived at the party around two hours late following a meeting with his new business manager and accountants, and that he was not on drugs but “shocked from what he had learnt at the meeting about his business affairs”.
He claims Ms Heard had been “drinking heavily” and attacked him while he was reading in bed, punching him in the face four times before he grabbed her arms to stop her.
Mr Depp says the next day, Ms Heard or one of her friends “defecated in Mr Depp’s and Ms Heard’s bed”, and claimed Ms Heard later told the building manager Kevin Murphy that it was “just a harmless prank” – at which point he “then resolved to divorce Ms Heard”.
Mr Justice Nicol says in his ruling that Mr Depp had a business meeting that evening during which he was given “very grim news about his financial situation”.
He says Mr Depp admitted taking marijuana, adding he finds it “more likely than not” that Mr Depp “also drank alcohol and took cocaine”.
The judge concludes Mr Depp “assaulted Ms Heard as he had done on previous occasions when he was stressed”.
On the so-called “defecation incident”, the judge says that Mr Depp’s belief that Ms Heard or one of her friends was responsible was relevant because it led him to conclude the marriage could not continue, and it was the case of part of an argument that took place the following month.
But he added that whether Ms Heard or her friends were responsible is “not important”, saying “it is remote from the central issue, namely whether Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard”.
– 14. May 21 2016
Mr Depp arrived at their LA apartment, allegedly “drunk and high” while Ms Heard was there with friends. Ms Heard said Mr Depp became “very angry”, throwing her phone at her and hitting her in the eye before smashing “everything he could” with a magnum of champagne.
He says he went to the apartment with two security guards to collect his belongings after Ms Heard and her sister “repeatedly” tried to contact him.
Mr Depp denies being violent, and claims his two security guards entered the room when they heard Ms Heard shouting, and saw her “repeatedly screaming, ‘stop hitting me, Johnny’” while he was 20ft away in the kitchen.
He also says that two police officers who attended the apartment after the incident “saw no injuries or bruising or swelling”.
Mr Justice Nicol says the “conflict in evidence” in relation to this evidence is “particularly sharp”, with some witnesses who saw Ms Heard in the days after saying her face showed no sign of injury, and other evidence of her with injuries to her face.
He says: “There is evidence which I find compelling of witnesses who saw Ms Heard with injuries to her face and who took photographs of these.”
The judge says he reaches the view “that Mr Depp did assault Ms Heard as she alleges in Incident 14”.