Sydney court lifts curfew for Danushka Gunathilaka
Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka can use the WhatsApp messaging service and go out at night again after having his bail for rape charges varied.
Gunathilaka, 31, applied to vary his bail in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday.
He is facing four counts of sexual intercourse without consent and has not yet entered a plea.
After matching on Tinder, meeting up for a date and heading back to her home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, the complainant alleges the cricketer refused to wear a condom and choked her three times.
She cannot be identified.
Gunathilaka was banned from using Tinder and other social media platforms when he was granted bail by a magistrate in November 2022.
The Crown consented to varying his bail on Thursday so that he can once again use WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging platform owned by Facebook-parent Meta, and popular in his home country.
Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson clarified the restrictions on his new freedom to use the platform.
“It’s not to be used for the purposes of facilitating or managing dating,” she said.
Crown prosecutor George Rixon opposed an application to vary a condition on a night-time curfew, however it was granted by the magistrate.
Mr Rixon said the curfew was needed to mitigate the risk of offending based on the alleged facts of the complainant’s statement, specifically, Gunathilaka’s “aggressive sexual behaviour” against her.
“There are likely to be more opportunities for this alleged offending to occur at night,” he said.
Ms Atkinson agreed the alleged offending occurred at night.
“But there’s nothing unique about it that it would have occurred at night and couldn’t occur during the day,” she said.
Ms Atkinson said it was going to be “more apparent” to the public that Gunathilaka had been charged and was on bail due to his high profile.
“Respectfully, I disagree that this person is necessarily immediately identifiable in the community,” Mr Rixon said.
Defence barrister Emma Sullivan said media coverage of her client’s case has further increased his profile.
“He’s very well known globally and in Australia,” she said.
Gunathilaka has been on strict conditions and has been complying with them, Ms Atkinson said, despite Mr Rixon’s submission that compliance with the orders of the court was not a reason to vary his bail.
“I’m not satisfied today that it is necessary to keep the curfew in place,” she said.
She warned Gunathilaka he would likely face many months in custody waiting for a trial or sentencing if he breached bail.
“This needs to be absolute compliance, you’ve been doing it up until now,” she told Gunathilaka.
Gunathilaka travelled to Australia with Sri Lanka’s T20 World Cup team but only played in their first game before being ruled out of the competition with a hamstring tear.
He was arrested shortly before boarding a flight home with the rest of the team after it bowed out of the tournament.
His case is expected to return to court in April.
(Source: Australian Associated Press – AAP)
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