The massage therapist who accused West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle of exposing himself to her is “plainly neurotic”, “bitter” and “vengeful”, his barrister has told the jury in the sportsman’s New South Wales Supreme Court defamation trial.
In his closing address to the jury of three women and one man, Bruce McClintock, SC, accused Fairfax Media of publishing “tabloid trash” by reporting the allegations in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times.
Gayle, 38, is suing Fairfax for defamation over a series of reports in January 2016 which were published 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 that Gayle exposed himself to her in a dressing room at Drummoyne in Sydney’s inner west during the Cricket World Cup in 2015.
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.
Fairfax Media is defending the articles on two bases, including that the reports are true.
McClintock told the jury yesterday that Fairfax editors and journalists “weren’t interested in the truth”.
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.
He said it was “impossible not to be moved yesterday when Russell gave her evidence” and she had bared her soul to the jury.
“You have the best seats in the house in this courtroom. Raw, honest and candid emotion [came] flooding out from Ms Russell,” Dr Collins 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 after a short summing-up from Justice Lucy McCallum. (The Sydney Morning Herald)