Sri Lanka cricketer Gunathilaka granted bail in sexual assault case

Sri Lanka’s Danushka Gunathilaka is awaiting trial on charges of alleged sexual assault of a woman during the team’s T20 World Cup campaign in Australia. PTI
| Photo Credit: AP

Sri Lanka cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka was on Thursday granted bail but banned from using his social media accounts while awaiting trial on charges of alleged sexual assault of a woman during the team’s T20 World Cup campaign in Australia.

According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, the now-suspended batter appeared in Sydney’s Downing Centre court via video link from Parklea Correctional Centre, where he had been in custody since being refused bail on November 7.

The 31-year-old Gunathilaka was arrested in Sydney in the wee hours of November 6 following an investigation into alleged sexual assault of a woman on November 2, even as the team flew out of the country after being eliminated in the Super 12 stage.

“Magistrate Janet Wahlquist granted Gunathilaka bail on Thursday in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court, where he appeared via an audiovisual link from Parklea jail,” the report said.

“Police prosecutor Kerry-Ann McKinnon opposed bail on the grounds Gunathilaka is a flight risk and that he could endanger the safety of the complainant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.”

Gunathilaka is facing four counts of sexual intercourse without consent and has not yet given a plea.

Social media ban and surrender of passport

Besides a ban on using Tinder, social media and dating applications, the bail conditions include a AUD 150,000 ($100,620) surety, surrender of passport, twice daily police reporting, a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., and not contacting the complainant.

The Sri Lankan cricket board suspended Gunathilaka from all forms of cricket soon after his arrest.

Reports quoting police documents stated that Gunathilaka’s victim was choked repeatedly and was “fearing for her life” during his alleged sexual assault.

The woman alleged that she was sexually assaulted four times in her home at Sydney’s Rose Bay on November 2 after going out for a date with the cricketer, who was here as part of the Sri Lankan team for the T20 World Cup.

Gunathilaka was later arrested from his team hotel by Sydney police, even as other members of the Sri Lankan squad returned home.

Facing 14-year sentence

The left-handed batter is facing a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Gunathilaka played against Namibia in Sri Lanka’s first round match and was out for a duck.

He was later ruled out of the tournament due to an injury but stayed with the team after it qualified for the Super 12 stage.

Controversies

Gunathilaka, who has represented Sri Lanka in eight Tests, 47 ODIs and 46 T20 Internationals, is no stranger to controversies.

In 2021, he was suspended by SLC for one year after he breached the team’s bio-secure bubble on the tour of England along with teammates Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella.

SLC had also handed him a six-month ban in 2018 after he had broken the team curfew. In the same year, Gunathilaka was also suspended after his unnamed friend was accused of raping a Norwegian woman.

In 2017, the board had suspended him for six limited overs games after it learnt that Gunathilaka missed training sessions and turned up for a game without his cricket gear.

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