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 previously matching on Tinder.
At the time, the batsman was in Australia to play in the T20 Cricket World Cup.
Danushka Gunathilaka was pictured holding hands and smiling with a mystery woman as he fronted court in Sydney on Monday
The cricket star has pleaded not guilty to one charge of sexual assault without consent
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.
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, took to the evidence stand 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’.
Gunathilaka’s accuser told the court that the cricket star repeatedly choked her for up to 30 seconds, leaving her breathing ‘really constricted’
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 her 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.
Gunathilaka stands accused of ‘stealthing’ – the act of removing a condom during or just prior to sex without the partner’s knowledge
She said: ‘I felt fearful for my life at this point.’
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’.
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.
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.
The trial continues before Judge Huggett.
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