Johnny Depp and Amber Heard: Couple rowed 'like schoolchildren', says ex-employee

Image source, Getty Images

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard argued "like schoolchildren", his former estate manager has claimed.

Ben King told London's High Court that their rows started from "banal beginnings" and escalated.

Mr Depp, 57, is suing the publisher of the Sun over an article that referred to him as a "wife beater" - but the newspaper maintains it was accurate.

He denies 14 domestic violence allegations which News Group Newspapers is relying on for its defence.

Mr King worked for Mr Depp for three separate periods between 2014 and 2016, in Australia, London and Vancouver, Canada.

In witness statements, Mr King said he "frequently witnessed" Ms Heard, 34, "goading and attempting to provoke" Mr Depp, who he never saw "be violent or unkind towards Ms Heard, or indeed towards anyone else".

He said: "Of what I heard of their arguments, they could start from very banal beginnings.

"On one occasion in London, I recall Ms Heard complained that Mr Depp had removed his hand from hers, and she complained along the lines of 'maybe you don't love me'."

Mr King continued: "The argument then carried on and escalated seriously. The way they argued could make them seem like schoolchildren."

Reflecting on periods in London and Australia, he said he "saw Ms Heard as the antagoniser" while Mr Depp "seemed keen to walk out of, or away from, arguments".

"I want to make clear that I did not see any violence at any time. I do not want to accuse Ms Heard of anything, but this was what I saw of the pattern of their arguments," he said.

Mr King also claimed that on a number of occasions, Mr Depp "left notes downstairs before he went to work, saying things like 'let's not do this again' and 'I love you'."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mr Depp and Ms Heard were married for two years until 2017

He also spoke about the couple's trip to Australia in March 2015, during which it is alleged Mr Depp assaulted Ms Heard and "completely destroyed" a house in a drink and drug-fuelled rage, which the actor denies.

Mr Depp alleges his finger was severed by Ms Heard throwing a vodka bottle at him, which she denies.

Mr King said he was summoned to the house the couple were renting, where he found a "significant amount of damage" and discovered Mr Depp's severed finger tip on the floor.

He said that on the flight back to Los Angeles from Australia with Ms Heard, she asked him "have you ever been so angry with someone that you just lost it?"

He said: "I replied that that had never happened to me. She seemed incredulous and asked again, 'you have never been so angry with someone that you just lost it?'

"Again, I answered that I had not and Ms Heard did not continue on this topic. This question seemed alarming to me, given the severity of the damage I had earlier witnessed at the house and the apparent serious injury to Mr Depp's finger."

Mr King also said Mr Depp was teetotal when he interviewed for the job and he was "surprised" when the couple brought "a relatively large number of cases of wine" to a house in London.

He also said that during their London stay in October 2014, he did not see Mr Depp drink, but he believed Ms Heard "would regularly drink at least one or two bottles a night".

'Abusive' texts

In later testimony, via video link from Los Angeles, Ms Heard's former personal assistant, Kate James, claimed the actress would send a "barrage of drunk text messages between the hours of two and four in the morning... on an almost daily basis".

Ms James accused Ms Heard of deleting all the "abusive" texts after the actress terminated her employment.

When Sasha Wass QC, barrister for the News Group Newspapers, suggested Ms James had been "encouraged" by Mr Depp and his associates to give "vicious evidence" against Ms Heard, she denied the accusation - adding she was "here for my own reasons".

In her witness statement, Ms James said she had discovered the Aquaman actress had "stolen" her own account of being "violently raped" at machete-point in Brazil in the 1990s and "twisted it into her own story to benefit herself".

"This of course caused me extreme distress and outrage that she would dare to attempt to use the most harrowing experience of my life as her own narrative.

"I'm a sexual violence survivor and that's very, very serious to take that stance if you are not one and I am one.

"That's the reason I'm here, because I take offence."

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp married in 2015

Also on Wednesday, Kevin Murphy - Mr Depp's current estate manager, who gave evidence via video link - said Mr Depp "would never hit a woman".

Mr Murphy was asked about a text message sent to him by Mr Depp, in which the actor offered his "profound thanks" and referred to wanting to "rid this fraud of the ability to hurt all womankind".

He said Mr Depp felt that Ms Heard's allegations were "not only a fraud against him, but a fraud against women in general".

The case arose out of the publication of an article on the Sun's website headlined: "Gone Potty: How can JK Rowling be 'genuinely happy' casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?".

The Sun's original article related to allegations made by the actress, who was married to the film star from 2015 to 2017.

Witnesses including Mr Depp's former partners Vanessa Paradis and Winona Ryder are expected to give evidence via video link, and the hearing is expected to last for three weeks.

More on this story