Alleged rape victim of cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka ‘feared’ for her life, tells court

Monday, 18 September 2023 - 19:28

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.

"Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka allegedly told a Tinder date not to worry, assuring her that she would not get pregnant, before stealthily removing a condom during sex.

The 32-year-old cricketer matched with the woman on the dating app on October 29, 2022, and they met for the first time four days later at Opera Bar in Sydney.

Later, they went back to the woman’s home in the eastern suburbs, where he is accused of raping her through the act of 'stealthing'—which involves removing a condom during sexual intercourse without the other person’s knowledge.

Gunathilaka has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, stated that he forcefully kissed her and slapped her buttocks on the way home that night, and then choked her two or three times during sex.

“I remember trying to remove his hand from my throat,” she said on Monday as the New South Wales district court trial began. “I felt fearful for my life at this point.”

The court heard there was no suggestion that any sexual activity that took place on the night was non-consensual, besides the alleged stealthing incident.

The crown prosecutor, Gabrielle Steedman, argued that just because someone consented to one type of activity did not mean they agreed to others.

In her testimony, the woman claimed that Gunathilaka was adamant that he did not want to wear the condom despite her insistence that he do so. He allegedly told her not to worry, adding, “I won’t get you pregnant, darling.”

The woman said Gunathilaka told her that night, “Don’t you trust me? You should trust me.”

Steedman told Judge Sarah Huggett that the woman noticed the used condom on the floor a few seconds after he had stopped having sex with her. “The complainant says she was in complete shock by what happened,” the prosecutor said.

The alleged removal of the condom and his other behavior that night showed that the cricketer did not care about or respect the woman’s wishes, Steedman argued.

In an interview with police soon after his arrest at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on November 6, Gunathilaka denied removing the condom, claiming he had put on a second one because the first “was not good.”

A search by police of the woman’s home found only one condom, which contained DNA profiles that matched both him and the alleged victim.

Gunathilaka’s barrister, Murugan Thangaraj SC, raised questions about whether the complainant was a credible witness. He pointed out that when she first spoke to her friends soon after the alleged incident and then to a doctor, she made no reference to the allegedly removed condom. The detail was only mentioned when she spoke to police on November 5, the court heard.

In his police interview, Gunathilaka categorically denied taking off the condom, Thangaraj said. “Because it was the first time the two of them were having sex, he also wanted to wear a condom,” he said.

The judge-alone trial continues."

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