Australian Police Pushing For Court Order On Danushka Gunathilaka


(MENAFN- Colombo Gazette) Australian Police are pushing for an apprehended violence order to be taken out against a Sri Lankan cricket star despite him being cleared of sexually assaulting a woman at her Sydney home.

Danushka Gunathilaka, 32, was finally allowed to leave Australia in October after about 10 months on bail after he was acquitted following a judge-alone trial in September.

Police had alleged Mr Gunathilaka had removed a condom without consent, also known as“stealthing”, during a sexual encounter with a woman he met on Tinder.

On Wednesday, the matter returned to the Local Court where it was revealed police were still pressing for an AVO to be taken out on the cricketer on the woman's behalf.

A police prosecutor on Wednesday told the court that the AVO was being pressed by the officer in charge.

But Mr Gunathilaka's lawyer, Alen Sahinovic, told the court that his client was living back home in Sri Lanka and he would need time to get instructions. The matter will return to court in December.

The move comes despite District Court Judge Sarah Huggett, who presided over the trial, finding police who attempted to prosecute Mr Gunathilaka acted“unreasonably”.

At a costs hearing last week, Judge Huggett told the court that she had“significant concerns” about the prosecution's case.

“I'm firmly of the opinion that if the prosecution had – before the proceedings were instituted – been in possession of evidence and all the relevant facts, it would not have been reasonable to institute the proceedings,” she said.

The top-order T20 batter was arrested and charged with four counts of sexual assault in November 2022 after the woman reported the matter to Bondi police.

The court was told the woman told Mr Gunathilaka she would only agree to sex if he wore a condom, which he“grumbled” about but ultimately agreed to.

Notes from the woman's first police interview indicate she told officers the condom was taken off“against her will”, allegations Mr Gunathilaka denied.

During that interview, Judge Huggett said the woman failed to include“critical” evidence she later provided to police in a statement some six months later.

Ultimately, police only proceeded to trial on a single charge, that of stealthing, with charges relating to the alleged roughness of the sex being dropped.

“The deficiencies in the prosecution case of stealthing, remembering that the prosecution case was not one of rough or aggressive sexual intercourse, were apparent,” Judge Huggett said.

“They were not the result of the factual findings made at trial ... Nor were the deficiencies related simply to the credibility of the complainant.

“There were so many inherent issues and difficulties with the prosecution case that should have been obvious to the prosecution at the outset.”

Judge Huggett ordered a certificate be issued to Mr Gunathilaka so he may be awarded costs.

Police submitted that in deciding to prosecute Mr Gunathilaka they could not have predicted what“factual findings would be made at trial”.

Following the acquittal, Mr Gunathilaka told media he was looking forward to resuming his playing career.

“I think the judge's verdict says everything,” he said outside court, thanking his family, lawyers, manager and supporters.

He added:“The last 11 months have been really hard for me ... I'm happy that my life is normal again, so I can't wait to go back and play cricket.”

After listening to four days of evidence, Judge Huggett found there was“no opportunity” to remove the condom because the intercourse was“continuous” . com)

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