Sri Lankan international cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka expressed his eagerness to return to the game and rebuild his reputation after being acquitted of sexual assault charges by a Sydney judge. The judge ruled that there was “no opportunity” for him to have removed a condom during sex, leading to the verdict of not guilty.
Gunathilaka, a 32-year-old batsman, was accused of “stealthing” during a sexual encounter with a 29-year-old woman at her eastern suburbs home in November of the previous year.
He had pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent and underwent a four-day trial before Judge Sarah Huggett in Downing Centre District Court. Judge Huggett, in her verdict, emphasized, “The evidence establishes that there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during the intercourse because that intercourse was continuous.”
Following the verdict, Gunathilaka expressed his relief and gratitude to his lawyers, manager, parents, and supporters in Sri Lanka. He mentioned his determination to restore his reputation and return to playing cricket, stating, “I’m happy that my life is normal again, so I can’t wait to go back and play cricket.”
The trial had revealed that Gunathilaka and the woman had met on Tinder, and their date included drinks at the Opera Bar, dinner at Frankie’s Pizza, and a ferry ride to her residence, where they engaged in various activities, including recording her playing the guitar and singing.
While the woman alleged forceful actions during intercourse, Judge Huggett noted that the mood captured in videos of the evening seemed relaxed and happy. The judge acknowledged that the woman did not strike her as a witness motivated by false evidence but highlighted that some of her testimony appeared to portray Gunathilaka negatively.
Gunathilaka was arrested on November 6, and police searched his hotel room, where they found condoms. During a recorded interview with the police, he denied having sex without a condom and stated that he had always used condoms when necessary.
The judge criticized the handling of the initial complaint by the police, including the destruction of notes that failed to mention stealthing. Gunathilaka was suspended from cricket after his arrest, and the matter is set to return to court on October 4.
Gunathilaka, who made his international debut in 2015 and has represented Sri Lanka in over 100 matches, was granted a judge-alone trial due to pre-trial media interest, and the proceedings were expedited due to his financial support to his parents through cricket earnings.
(Courtesy: The Sydney Morning Herald)