International cricketer Chris Gayle became “very reserved and scared” in public around women after Fairfax published reports alleging he exposed himself to a female massage therapist in a Sydney dressing room, a court has heard.
The West Indies player is suing Fairfax Media for defamation over a series of articles published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times between in January last year that alleged he exposed himself to a team massage therapist during the 2015 Cricket World Cup following his famous “don’t blush baby” interview with sports reporter Mel McLaughlin, then at Network Ten.
Leanne Russell, the massage therapist at the centre of the reports, gave evidence on Wednesday (Oct 25) that Gayle exposed himself to her in a dressing room at Drummoyne in Sydney’s inner west.
Ms Russell told the court the alleged incident, which took place in the presence of Gayle’s teammate Dwayne Smith, left her “crying uncontrollably.”
“I saw the top half of Chris’ penis, I apologise, and I thereafter shielded my view,” Ms Russell said.
“Horrific. I was very upset,” she said.
“I was crying uncontrollably. I was crying like a child. I was upset because of what Chris had done because I’d known him for 10 years.”
Gayle gave evidence on Monday (Oct 23) that the incident did not happen and “this is one case I have to fight”.
Gayle’s long-time friend, UK-based cricket coach Donovan Miller, gave character evidence for the cricketer on Thursday (Oct 26).
Miller said he had known the cricketer for more than 22 years and had become particularly close to him because of his work with the Chris GayleFoundation.
The UK-based organization helps disadvantaged young children by using cricket to guide them.
Asked about Gayle’s reputation before the articles were published in January 2016, Miller said, “I think everyone loves him” and added he was a big role model to young cricketers.
“We all thought this was a joke … not serious,” Miller told the court, referring to when the exposure claims were first aired.
Since then, Gayle had become very “reserved and scared, especially [around] females and he always feels someone is out to get him”.
“You can see the incident has affected him,” Miller said.
“When you look in his eyes you can see he is really hurting about it.”
He recalled selecting Gayle to be on a panel in England around the time the story was in the media and being asked, “Why would you pick Chris Gayle, with this sort of reputation?”
“I do feel a bit sorry for him,” he said.
“I have known him for so long, I feel people have the wrong perception.”
Gayle Gayle’s barrister, Bruce McClintock SC, told the court on Thursday (Oct 26) that Ms Russell was so troubled by anorexia and so “mentally fragile” that when she went into the dressing room she said she told Gayle she was looking for a towel rather than a sandwich.
“The significance of this is the whole thing starts with a lie told by Ms Russell,” he said in his closing address in the NSW supreme court.
He said Ms Russell was “plainly neurotic”, “bitter” and “vengeful”.
Gayle’s evidence was “eloquent and moving”, Mr McClintock said, and “he said it did not happen and I say you should accept that”.
“Everyone agrees sexual harassment is wrong,” Mr McClintock said.
“This case is not about sexual harassment.”
Fairfax Media’s barrister, Matthew Collins, QC, delivered his closing address to the jury on Thursday (Oct 26).
Dr Collins said Russell bravely bared her soul to give raw and honest evidence about Gayle.
She not only repeatedly described the incident but, in the full glare of the national media, revealed she suffers from anorexia, he said.
Dr Collins said Gayle’s legal team had “tried to discredit Ms Russell in every way imaginable” but her evidence was “the story of a victim” and she had “no motive … other than to tell you the truth about what happened to her”.
The jury is expected to begin its deliberations on Monday (Oct 30) after a short summing-up from Justice Lucy McCallum.