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Hearing of Danushka’s case concludes, verdict to be delivered next week

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The hearing of the case against Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka over alleged sexual assault before the New South Wales District Court has been concluded and Judge Sarah Huggett will deliver her verdict on 28 September, Australian media confirmed.

Cricket star Danushka Gunathilaka has stood trial at the Downing Centre District Court for the past four days after pleading not guilty to one charge of sexual assault without consent.

The charge relates to an incident on 02 November 2022, when it is alleged the 32-year-old removed a condom during sexual intercourse – known as stealthing – with a woman at her home in Sydney’s east.

The pair first met at the Opera Bar near the Sydney Opera House, where CCTV footage shows them embracing, before having drinks together in the city and heading back to the woman’s home via ferry.

The night reportedly turned out “very differently to what the woman expected or wanted”, while Gunathilaka’s lawyers have told a court the complainant’s evidence is “demonstrably unreliable”.

Crown prosecutor Gabrielle Steedman urged Judge Sarah Huggett to find the cricketer guilty, telling the court the complainant’s evidence “must be accepted beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Ms Steedman said the accused did not respect any of the woman’s requests or boundaries, arguing it was “entirely consistent” with someone who would remove his condom despite “her clear wishes to the contrary”.

The prosecutor referred to their pre-date interactions online, including his offer to pay for a flight for her to Brisbane to visit him there, which she declined.

“It is clear there is a mutual flirtation throughout … but the accused was pursuing her quite relentlessly prior to meeting up,” Ms Steedman said.

The prosecutor said in the woman’s bedroom, Mr Gunathilaka engaged in “a negotiation” about protection after a discussion about his preference to not use condoms.

The court has previously heard the woman did not see the cricketer remove the condom but saw it on the floor after he stopped sexual intercourse.

When the complainant testified, she alleged she was choked three times during sex — and that Mr Gunathilaka had previously kissed her “forcefully” and become aggressive on the way home and on the couch.

Today, Ms Steedman said he agreed to initially wear the condom “to appease her” and had “plenty of opportunity” to remove it.

“The fact that she did not see him do it stands to reason, and she says she zoned out during this period because it was so unpleasant,” the Crown said.

In his recorded police interview, the cricketer denied all wrongdoing and told investigators there were two condoms because the first one did not work.

Ms Steedman said the claim of the second condom was “a deliberate mistruth”.

“MORPHED EVIDENCE”

Mr Gunathilaka’s defence barrister, Murugan Thangaraj SC, told the court that the alleged victim had provided a narrative that had “morphed” and “shaped to fit the allegation”.

He claimed the woman gave false and self-serving evidence throughout her evidence as well as in her two statements to police.

Mr Thangaraj said the narrative “is unsustainable in the light of the evidence”.

He questioned whether the woman “deliberately” left out certain elements of her evidence or rather “subconsciously edited” them out without realising.

Mr Thangaraj said the woman did not remember matters inconsistent with her narrative.

During their online interactions, Mr Gunathilaka at one point said he was too tired after a game to meet the woman on a different night out, which Mr Thangaraj said was “not entirely consistent with the Crown’s submission he was relentlessly pursuing”.

He highlighted that his client was an international cricketer, questioning why he would risk conduct such as choking which would leave visible injuries.

Mr Thangaraj said the woman created an “aggressive narrative” of what happened in the lead-up to their trip to her house, including claims she was ambushed on her couch.

But he said it would be completely inconsistent with that for her to then invite him into the bedroom and light candles.

The judge-alone trial has ended. Judge Huggett will deliver her judgment on September 28.

Source – ABC /  The Australian

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