Danushka Gunathilka “not guilty” in sexual assault trial; reports

Sydney, Sep 28 (IANS): Sri Lanka batter Dashunka Gunathilaka -- accused of sexual assault on a Tinder date while in Australia for the T20 World Cup 2022 through the act of "stealthing" -- has been found “not guilty.”

Gunathilaka, 32, was accused of assaulting the Sydney woman at her home after a Tinder date in November 2022.

According to reports, acquitting, Gunathilaka, Judge Sarah Huggett, at Sydney's Downing Centre District Court on Thursday found that Gunathilaka had told police the truth, saying, he had "no opportunity" to do so.

"The evidence establishes that there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during intercourse because that intercourse was continuous," the judge said in handing down the verdict.

"There is no reason at all to reject or disbelieve what he said in that interview," she added.

On the other hand, Huggett found the complainant, who cannot be legally named, had given two different accounts in her statements to police and did not have a "clear memory" of what happened, Hugget was quoted as saying.

Hugget further said the complainant was motivated “ by a desire to paint the cricketer in an unfavourable light.”

Gunathilaka thanked his lawyers, parents, and others who supported him during these hard 11 months.

"I'm happy that my life is normal again, so I can't wait to go back and play cricket," he told reporters.

Gunathilaka has represented Sri Lanka in more than 100 matches including eight Tests was suspended from competitive cricket following his arrest. Gunathilaka has been on bail during the trial but was unable to play international cricket or return to his hometown of Colombo.

Gunathilaka and the woman matched on the dating app and met for drinks at Opera Bar in November 2022 before having pizza together in the Sydney CBD and then catching a ferry to the woman's eastern suburbs home.

The woman accused the batter of various acts of aggression and violence such as slapping her buttocks, forcefully kissing her, bruising her lips, and choking her during sex.

Police initially brought four charges against Gunathilaka, who was arrested at the Hyatt Regency, he was charged with multiple counts of rape, but only one count of stealthing, and proceeded to trial.

Huggett on Thursday described the conduct of police in prosecuting Gunathilaka as "very concerning" and "far from satisfactory".






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Title: Danushka Gunathilka “not guilty” in sexual assault trial; reports

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