Danushka seen with ‘mystery’ woman outside court; alleged victim says she ‘feared for life’
September 18, 2023 01:47 pm
A woman who claims she was tricked into having sex without a condom with a Sri Lankan cricketer has told a court there were moments during intercourse she “feared” for her life.
Danushka Gunathilaka is facing a judge-alone trial at the Downing Centre District Court after pleading not guilty to one charge of sexual assault without consent.
The international cricket player walked into the court complex holding hands with a blonde woman, who is not the complainant, ahead of the expected four-day trial in front of Judge Sarah Huggett on Monday morning.
He is facing trial over an incident on November 2 last year, where Crown Prosecutor Gabrielle Steedman told the court the 32-year-old met up with a woman at Sydney’s Opera Bar after matching on Tinder.
At the time, the batsman was in Australia to play in the T20 World Cup.
It is not in dispute that the pair had chatted several times through Tinder, Instagram and video called on WhatsApp from October 31 before their meeting three days later.
CCTV footage played to the court shows the pair hugging as they meet at Opera Bar, with further footage showing the pair kissing while waiting for a ferry back to the woman’s home.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave evidence via AVL on Monday where she told the court the kiss was “forceful” and that it didn’t feel nice.
They returned to the woman’s home in the eastern suburbs about 11pm when the alleged sexual assault occurred, the court was told.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave evidence via AVL on Monday morning where she told the court she poured herself and Mr Gunathilaka a glass of wine before he began kissing her on her couch “quite forcefully”.
“He was on top of me, I remember him kissing me quite forcefully,” the woman said.
“I remember asking him ‘can we please take this slow’, because things were moving quite quickly and I wasn’t comfortable. I remember him looking me in the eye as I said that and not saying anything in response.”
The woman told the court the pair moved to her bedroom where she asked Mr Gunathilaka to use a condom but he said he didn’t want to because he “didn’t like them”.
She told him she wanted to use a condom because she didn’t want to get pregnant or a sexually transmitted disease.
“He said ‘don’t worry I won’t get you pregnant darling, don’t you trust me?’,” the woman said.
“I remember him saying that he hated them, he said something like ‘I hate using condoms I don’t like them, it doesn’t feel good you should trust me’.”
The woman said Mr Gunathilaka “hesitated” before putting the condom on, which made the woman become uncomfortable.
Ms Steedman, in her earlier opening address, told the court the intercourse lasted for about 15 minutes and was “quite rough”.
During her evidence, the woman said there were multiple times she feared for her life.
“I remember that Danny choked me and he put one hand on my neck and the other hand was on the bed and he choked me for 20-30 seconds,” the woman said.
She told the court the choking happened at least three times and at one point her breath was “really constricted” and tried removing his hands.
The woman said she noticed Mr Gunathilaka had been smirking while he was choking her.
The woman told the court at points during the encounter Mr Gunathilaka had “the weight of his body” on her, which made her feel “trapped and powerless”.
“I felt at that point, fearful for my life, because I couldn’t get away and I really wanted it to stop,” she said.
Mr Gunathilaka then stood up from the bed, where the woman realised the condom was on the ground and he hadn’t been wearing it.
In her opening address, Ms Steedman said the alleged victim was “shocked’ and didn’t feel safe about saying anything for “what she says was fear of retribution”.
During her evidence, the woman said she felt “too afraid to continue to ask him to use a condom”.
The main issue in the trial is Mr Gunathilaka’s state of mind as to whether or not he removed the condom without the woman’s knowledge, which is known as stealthing.
Ms Steedman told the court the woman had consented to protected sex.
The court was told the woman called Mr Gunathilaka a taxi about 12.45am, and after he left she began to feel “frozen and in shock”.
“I remember being very aware of what was happening but my body felt really frozen,” the woman said.
In the days following, the woman felt “overwhelmingly anxious” and began crying uncontrollably in public.
She told the court: “A sense of feeling like I had been violated and sexually assaulted and realising also after speaking to a counsellor...that I realised again that the reason for me at times not being able to voice my non-consent was due to overwhelming fear”.
The court was told the woman later told friends she wasn’t sure what happened but she thought it was “something bad”.
Mr Gunathilaka’s barrister, Murugan Thangaraj SC, told the judge the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt his client removed the condom “against the woman’s will”.
In his brief opening address, Mr Thangaraj said the cricketer is a man of “excellent character” was cooperative with police.
He argued the complainant’s evidence was not credible and in order to prove the case, the judge would need to accept the woman as a credible witness.
Mr Thangaraj said in the woman’s first conversations with friends she said she was unsure if Mr Gunathilaka removed the condom, but she “had a feeling” he did.
He told the court it was only when the woman spoke to police that her version of the story “crystallised”.
The trial continues before Judge Huggett.