An international cricketer pursued a Tinder date “relentlessly” through messages on three different apps, asking the Sydney woman to fly to Brisbane to see him and telling her he knew they would “like each other” because he had a “feeling”.
Sri Lankan cricket star Danushka Gunathilaka stood trial in the Downing Centre District Court over four days this week after pleading not guilty to one charge of sexual assault without consent.
The 32-year-old batsman is accused of removing a condom while having sex with a woman at her home in Sydney’s east on November 2 last year, otherwise known as stealthing.
While it has been agreed both Mr Gunathilaka and the woman engaged in “flirtatious” messaging since they matched on Tinder on October 29, Crown Prosecutor Gabrielle Steedman told the court it was the cricketer who “relentlessly pursued” the woman.
Messages between the pair have been released by the court and span across three different social media apps from the moment they first swiped right on each other on Tinder.
The pair briefly talk on Tinder before Mr Gunathilaka asks to move the conversation to Instagram, as it would be “easier”.
While the woman is reluctant at first, she gives him her handle and Mr Gunathilaka sends the first message: “So what made you swipe right lol”.
The woman replies: “You’re a bit of a hottie and you have kind looking eyes”.
Mr Gunathilaka and the woman continue to talk on Instagram and the woman invites him out to the Establishment in Sydney’s CBD, but he doesn’t go because he is “too tired” after a cricket game.
The cricketer then travelled to Brisbane and the pair agreed to meet up when he returned to Sydney, with the woman organising a date around her work schedule and a wedding.
“Would you be free Wed (sic)? I have a pre-wedding thing on,” she asked.
Mr Gunathilaka replied: “Yes after your wedding let’s meet.”
“Definitely not my wedding,” she responded with a laughing emoji.
Things then took a turn when Mr Gunathilaka asked the woman to meet him in Brisbane instead.
“You can’t be that lucky,” the woman said, before asking why he wanted her to go.
The cricketer said it was so he could “spend time” with the woman, before later asking her for some “cuddles” and again requesting her to fly interstate.
The woman said she “wasn’t very good at taking orders” before asking if Mr Gunathilaka was kidding.
“No … I’m serious … Today or tomorrow! Come and stay,” he said.
The woman said they had never met and she had work, before Mr Gunathilaka promised he wasn’t a serial killer.
“I’m sure you’re a nice guy but we don’t know if there’s any chemistry until we meet,” she said, before adding it was too expensive and she couldn’t get away from work.
Mr Gunathilaka responded: “I can understand but I’m sure that we will like each other, I got that feeling.”
The conversation then moved to WhatsApp where Mr Gunathilaka again asked the woman if she was going to fly to Brisbane, but she said she couldn’t afford it.
He offered to pay for the ticket, with the woman saying it was “sweet” but suggested Mr Gunathilaka could meet a “nice girl in Brisbane”.
“I invite you because I like you it doesn’t mean I’m looking for girls here! Thanks,” he replied.
The woman replied: “I see. I didn’t mean to offend you. I guess I’m just surprised that you really do want me to fly up that’s all”.
They planned to meet up the following Wednesday after the woman’s pre-wedding drinks at the Opera Bar.
She warns him that it’s freezing and to bring a jacket to which he replies: “I’ll warm you up”.
In her closing address, Crown prosecutor Ms Steedman said the “flavour of the messages” showed Mr Gunathilaka was “pursuing the complainant”.
She said Mr Gunathilaka was pursuing the woman “quite relentlessly”.
EMBRACING ON CCTV
CCTV footage shows the pair embracing as they meet at the Opera Bar and mingle with her friends, before they walk arm-in-arm to nearby Frankie’s Pizza for dinner.
They then return to Circular Quay to catch a ferry to the woman’s home, with CCTV footage showing them kissing on the wharf, with the woman’s arms around Mr Gunathilaka’s neck.
International cricket star Danushka Gunathilaka is facing a judge-alone trial at the Downing Centre District Court after pleadingnot guilty to one charge of sexual assault without consent. The charge relates to an incident on November 2 last year when it is alleged the 32-year-old removed a condom while having sex – known as stealthing – with a woman at her home in Sydney’s east. The pair first met at the Opera Bar near the Sydney Opera House, where CCTV footage shows them embracing as they meet, before having drinks together in the city and heading back to the woman’s home via ferry.
During her evidence, the woman said these kisses were “forceful and aggressive” and told the court the cricketer “slapped her buttocks forcefully” while on the ferry.
But the cricketer’s lawyer, Murugan Thangaraj SC, told the court the alleged victim had provided a narrative that had “morphed” and “shaped to fit the allegation”.
The woman reported the matter to police on November 5 and Mr Gunathilaka was arrested in the early hours of November 6 at the Hyatt Regency, where the Sri Lankan cricket team was staying at the time for the T20 World Cup.
He was then taken to Day Street Police Station where he answered questions for more than two hours during a recorded interview.
The footage has been released by the court, showing the cricketer become emotional as he spoke about a spiritual conversation he had with the alleged victim.
Mr Gunathilaka told police the pair had sex before they started talking, where the woman said she had the power to “see the future”.
“She has a different power, I don’t know what you call them … I was so interested about those things because I am a Buddhist …” he said in the interview before he began crying.
“We were talking about religious things … she can see in a past life and we chatted about that kind of stuff.”
Mr Gunathilaka told the police officers he asked the woman to tell him about his past life and she told him they used to be neighbours in Thailand.
The cricketer told police he became scared and “got a feeling” the woman was “a bit weird”, prompting him to tell the woman he wanted to go home. She ordered him a taxi.
The last message Mr Gunathilaka sent the woman was “Thanks” after she provided him with the taxi details.
“I didn’t text her and she didn’t text me also,” Mr Gunathilaka told police.
“That’s it, then I’m here.”
Mr Gunathilaka told police the sex between the pair was consensual, and he didn’t pack condoms with him as he didn’t think there was a chance of it happening.
However, Detective Sergeant Laura Beecroft from the Sex Crimes Squad told the court Mr Gunathilaka’s Burberry satchel he was wearing on the night was searched and two condoms were found in wrappers.
The cricketer was asked if at any point he put his penis “into her without a condom on”.
“No, no, definitely not,” Mr Gunathilaka replied.
However, Mr Gunathilaka admitted to telling police he preferred to have sex without a condom, but denied saying he didn’t want to use one during their encounter.
He said: “I just said ‘normally I don’t like to have sex with condoms’, I didn’t say ‘I don’t want to have sex without a condom’.”
THE ISSUE AT TRIAL
The 32-year-old batsman is accused of removing a condom without the knowledge of the 29-year-old woman, known as stealthing.
He has pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent and faced a four-day judge-alone trial in front of Judge Sarah Huggett.
The court was told the woman had consented to protected sex, with the main issue at trial is Mr Gunathilaka’s state of mind as to whether or not he removed the condom without the woman’s knowledge.
Mr Thangaraj told the court during his closing address the alleged victim had provided a narrative that had “morphed” and “shaped to fit the allegation”.
He claimed the woman gave false and self-serving evidence throughout her evidence as well as in her two statements to police.
“There’s an ongoing narrative of doing what he wanted, not respecting her … Your Honour cannot accept the evidence of the complainant,” the barrister said.
Judge Sarah Huggett will deliver her verdict on Thursday.
https://www.perthnow.com.au/sport/inside-messages-between-woman-and-sri-lankan-cricketer-before-alleged-stealthing-c-11998143 Inside messages between woman and Sri Lankan cricketer before alleged ‘stealthing’