Sri Lankan international cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka
Danushka Gunathilaka is seen on video wiping his eyes while giving his version of events. Image by Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS
  • crime, law and justice

Cricket star breaks down with cops over rape allegation

Miklos Bolza September 20, 2023

Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka started crying in front of police while detailing the night when he allegedly raped a Tinder date at her home in Sydney.

In a recorded police interview played during the 32-year-old’s judge-alone trial in Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday, the sportsman is seen struggling to speak and wiping his eyes with a tissue while telling his version of what happened.

He said he met the woman at the Opera Bar before getting pizza in the Sydney CBD and taking the ferry back to her home for drinks on November 2, 2022.

After sex, he said the woman told him she had a special power where she could see past lives.

She allegedly closed her eyes and told him they were previously neighbours living in Thailand.

“After that, I got a bit scared. I don’t know why I got that feeling. And I thought she was a bit weird,” he told police on November 6.

The woman, who cannot be legally named, says Gunathilaka engaged in “stealthing” by removing his condom without her permission during sexual activity at her eastern suburbs home.

He has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent.

In the police interview, he denied forcefully kissing the alleged victim, slapping her buttocks on the ferry, choking her on the bed, or having unprotected sex.

“I didn’t do it. I didn’t go inside without any condom,” he said at the time.

Earlier on Wednesday, his barrister Muragan Thangaraj SC grilled the two police officers who first spoke to the alleged victim on November 5, 2022.

He asked why Constable Katrina Lackerdis had only written notes of her conversation with the woman on scrap paper and had sent incomplete photos of this material to the constable who then met the alleged victim.

“You threw out the scrap piece of paper,” Mr Thangaraj said.

“I shouldn’t have but I did,” she replied, admitting this was a mistake.

The charge before the court relates to the alleged removal of the condom during sexual intercourse.

Mr Thangaraj observed that Const Lackerdis’ notes did not make any mention of intercourse during the alleged sexual assault and the officer agreed.

“It’s not anywhere that I can see, but I remember the conversation quite clearly,” she said.

Const Lackerdis was also asked why she had told the alleged victim to personally bring clothing worn on the night to the police instead of waiting for crime scene officers to retrieve them from her home.

“Why are you allowing a complainant to touch material that might be forensically tested?” Mr Thangaraj said.

“I don’t know,” the officer responded.

The case was then passed onto Constable Tayleh Gabriel who met the alleged victim and took a 37-page statement from her.

Const Gabriel admitted her notes of a phone call with Const Lackerdis also did not refer to intercourse.

“If Constable Lackerdis had told you that there was non-consensual sexual intercourse, you would have written that down,” Mr Thangaraj asked.

“She did tell me,” Const Gabriel replied.

Gunathilaka was arrested in the early hours of November 6, 2022, at Sydney’s Hyatt Regency hours before the Sri Lankan cricket team was due to fly out. 

Police seized his iPhone and two unused condoms from a Burberry satchel bag.

The cricketer’s sister Sachini Gunathilaka, former girlfriend Erin Purdy and long-time friend Marsha Dahanayaka told the court about his good character and treatment of women.

Ms Purdy was shocked to read the allegation brought against her ex-boyfriend.

“That is not the person that I know or the person that I dated,” she said.

“It made me a little sick to my stomach, to be honest.”

The trial with Judge Sarah Huggett concludes on Thursday.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028