32-year-old Sri Lankan batter Danushka Gunathilanka has been found not guilty of sexual assault charges by a Sydney court. Gunathilanka was accused of assaulting a Sydney woman at her residence after a date in November last year during the ICC T20 World Cup 2022.
The Sri Lankan batter had been charged with multiple counts of rape and one of stealthing (removing the condom without consent) and faced a four-day trial in a New South Wales District Court.
During the course of the trial, the complainant argued that she had only consented to protected sex and while she did not see Gunathilanka remove the condom, she saw it on the floor shortly after intercourse ended. Moreover, she also accused the batter of ‘forcefully’ kissing her and choking her so hard that she feared for her life.
Judge Sarah Huggett while acquitting the 32-year-old said in her verdict (quoted by ESPNCricinfo), “The evidence establishes that there was no opportunity for the accused to remove the condom during intercourse because that intercourse was continuous,”
“I find that the evidence regarding the complaint far from supports the complainant. Rather it undermines the reliability of her evidence,” the judge added.
Gunathilaka was not a part of Sri Lankan squad for T20 World Cup on October 19, 2022 owing to a hamstring injury but had stayed in Australia as a standby player.
Later, after the incident came to light, the Sri Lankan Cricket Board had suspended Gunathilaka from all formats of cricket.
In an official statement about the incident, the cricketing body noted, “The Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket decided to suspend national player Danushka Gunathilaka from all forms of cricket with immediate effect and will not consider him for any selections after being informed that Mr. Gunathilaka was arrested and charged with sexual assault of a woman in Australia,”
However, despite the acquittal from the Sydney court, ban of Gunathilaka will continue. Gunathilanka will subject to disciplinary action upon his return for violating the Sri Lankan cricketing board’s code of conduct for players.