Winona Ryder says it is 'impossible' to believe allegations against Johnny Depp

Patrick Sawer

Johnny Depp's former partners Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis have described him as a kind and loving man, saying it was "impossible" to believe that he was capable of attacking anyone.

Ms Ryder and Ms Paradis said they did not recognise the description of him as a violent drug and drink-fuelled abuser that had been painted by his former wife Amber Heard.

In witness statements released by the High Court as part of a libel case brought by Mr Depp against the publisher of the Sun newspaper, Ms Ryder, 48, even suggested Ms Heard was not telling the truth.

Ms Ryder, who recently starred in Stranger Things and has described Mr Depp as her first love,  stated: "I do not want to call anyone a liar, but from my experience of Johnny, it is impossible to believe that such horrific allegations are true. I find it extremely upsetting, knowing him as I do.

"The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the furthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved. I cannot wrap my head around these accusations.

"He was never, never violent towards me. He was never, never abusive at all towards me. He has never been violent or abusive towards anybody I have seen."

Ms Paradis, the French singer, model and actress who had two children with Mr Depp during a 14-year relationship which ended when he left her for Ms Heard, said: "This is nothing like the true Johnny I have known and, from my personal experience of many years, I can say he was never violent or abusive to me.

"I have seen that these outrageous statements have been really distressing, and also caused damage to his career because unfortunately people have gone on believing these false facts."

Amber Heard

The dramatic release of the witness statements came on the eighth day of the actor's case against The Sun's publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), and its executive editor Dan Wootton over an article from April 2018 alleging that he was violent towards Ms Heard, 34, before and during their marriage.

Both Ms Ryder and Ms Paradis had been due to appear via video link in order to answer questions about their evidence.

However, Mr Depp's lawyers decided not to call them since the case did not rest on whether the actor was violent to other women but only against Ms Heard.

Unlike many of Mr Depp's witnesses, neither of the two women are understood to be financially dependent on him, although Ms Paradis stays in a house he owns in LA when visiting with their children.

NGN's barrister, Sasha Wass QC, told the court: "We would have wanted to cross examine both Winona Ryder and Vanessa Paradis, but a decision has been taken by the claimant to abandon them as witnesses."

Mr Justice Nicol ruled that, because extracts from both Ms Ryder's and Ms Paradis' statements had been read in open court at a preliminary hearing, they should be made public.

In her statement Ms Ryder, who met Mr Depp in 1989 when she was 17 and he was 26, said: "I was absolutely shocked, confused and upset when I heard the accusations against him. 

"I truly and honestly only know him as a really good man – an incredibly loving, extremely caring guy who was so very protective of me and the people that he loves, and I felt so very, very safe with him."

Johnny Depp outside the court in London

The court had previously heard Mr Depp had a "Winona Forever" tattoo which he later changed to "Wino Forever" and which Ms Heard is alleged to have mocked in light of him failing to give up drink and drugs.

Earlier, Mr Depp's head of security for 14 years claimed Ms Heard was violent to him on multiple occasions, with his security team having to protect him from her abusive behaviour. Sean Bett told the hearing that Ms Heard's abuse of her husband became a "recurring cycle" during their relationship.

He said: "Throughout the course of Mr Depp and Ms Heard' s relationship, Ms Heard was verbally and physically abusive towards Mr Depp. On many occasions, I witnessed her shout at Mr Depp. I was also told by Mr Depp on multiple occasions that Ms Heard had physically abused him.

"A very common occurrence throughout the relationship would be that Mr Depp would have me, and other members of his security team, take him away from Ms Heard due to her behaviour."

Johnny Depp with injuries allegedly sustained from Amber Heard in 2015

The court was shown a number of photographs taken by Mr Bett of injuries to Mr Depp allegedly caused by Ms Heard, including one (above) showing a red mark to his cheek taken in March 2015 and another, showing a scratch and reddening around his nose, taken in December 2015.

The hearing continues.

 

Amber Heard was regularly violent to Johnny Depp, says his head of security

 

Appearing in support of the actor, Mr Bett, a former officer at Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, said problems would frequently arise from Ms Heard's habit of drinking large quantities of red wine.

He said: "Ms Heard often behaved in this way when she had been drinking. I learnt quickly to recognise the signs, so that we were able to leave the situation before it escalated further. I also knew that she could be violent towards Mr Depp, so it was important that he did not remain in a situation with Ms Heard when she was in this kind of abusive mood."

Mr Bett, who admitted in court that he found Ms Heard to be "perfectly polite" when he was on his own with her without Mr Depp, said he had never seen the actor physically abusing his wife or anyone else.

He said: "I have never seen Mr Depp being violent to anyone including Ms Heard during the long period I have been working for him.

"In addition, I have observed Ms Heard throwing bottles, glasses and other objects at Mr Depp while being verbally abusive towards him. As a rule, during these episodes Mr Depp remains fairly passive and either tries to calm Ms Heard down or remove himself from the situation."

Mr Bett told the court that, following the couple's arguments he would sometimes be asked by Mr Depp to drive Ms Heard home to the Eastern Columbia Buildings from his Sweetzer Avenue property in LA to make sure she got home safely.

The bodyguard said: "During these times she would be crying, saying how much she loved Mr Depp and she's tired of the arguing, and I would tell her, 'well this has to stop between you two'." He told the court that he did not see any marks or bruises on her during these journeys.

The security guard also said he saw no bruises, scratches or marks on Ms Heard's face when he was called to the Eastern Columbia penthouse following an argument between the couple, during which she claimed he had attacked her in May 2015. 

Sasha Wass QC, NGN's barrister, suggested Mr Bett was "lying" about the lack of visible injuries on Ms Heard's face. "She had visible reddening," she said.

Mr Bett responded: "You can call me a liar 100 times. I'm not. I'm telling the truth."

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