Sri Lanka cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka has been found not guilty of sexual assault charges by a Sydney court, as reported by AAP. The 32-year-old was apprehended in November the previous year during the T20 World Cup after a woman accused him of non-consensual sexual intercourse.
He faced four charges of rape, but the court decided to pursue a trial for one count of “stealthing.” Gunathilaka entered a not guilty plea and underwent a four-day trial overseen by Judge Sarah Huggett at the Downing Centre District Court.
Gunathilaka, who had been suspended from all cricket activities by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), has now been acquitted and is cleared to return to Sri Lanka.
The 32-year-old Sri Lankan was apprehended in November 2022 and faced trial in a Sydney court for “stealthing.”
“The evidence establishes that there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom … because that intercourse was continuous,” Judge Huggett said during the verdict, noting that the cricketer had “answered every question asked of him” by the police and gave a “distinct impression he was doing his best to be truthful”.
“There is no reason at all to reject or disbelieve what he said in that interview,” the judge further told the court. “(The complainant) did not strike me as a witness motivated by a desire to give deliberately false evidence.”
“However, there were occasions when I formed the impression that some of her evidence had the appearance of being motivated by a desire to paint the accused in an unfavourable light.”
Gunathilaka, who boasts 8 Test matches, 47 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), and 46 Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) in his career for Sri Lanka, expressed that the past year has been extremely challenging for him, and he is relieved to return to a “regular” life once more.
“I think the judge’s verdict says everything,” Gunathilaka said outside the court in Sydney. “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.”