Dog smuggling case

Depp's wife gets off with good behaviour bond

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard (both above) arriving at the Australian court. Heard pleaded guilty to falsifying travel documents to sneak two pet dogs into the country.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard (both above) arriving at the Australian court. Heard pleaded guilty to falsifying travel documents to sneak two pet dogs into the country.PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY • An Australian court let off the wife of Hollywood star Johnny Depp with a good behaviour bond on Monday after she pleaded guilty to falsifying travel documents to sneak two pet dogs into the country.

Depp accompanied actress Amber Heard for the hearing at a packed courthouse in the Southport magistrates court, near where he had been shooting a Pirates Of The Caribbean sequel when the scandal erupted last May.

Bringing an end to what was dubbed the "war on terrier", a magistrate filed no conviction for Heard, but issued a formal order to stay out of trouble for a month or face a A$1,000 (S$1,041) fine.

Heard, 29, had faced charges of illegally importing animals after authorities accused the couple of flying their Yorkshire Terriers, Pistol and Boo, into the country without going through proper quarantine procedures.

But on Monday, the court learnt that state prosecutors agreed to drop those charges when Heard pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of lying on an arrival card, which reportedly failed to declare the dogs when she was entering the country to visit Depp on set last year.

For the A-list couple, the result is a reassuringly un-Hollywood ending to their brush with Australia's notoriously tough quarantine laws.

The original charges against Heard carried a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of A$10,000.

The ruling also drew a line under the unlikely diplomatic tangle between the celebrity pair and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce who, in his capacity as farm minister, threatened to have the dogs put down if Depp and Heard did not remove them.

Heard's lawyer Jeremy Kirk told the court his client was jetlagged and worried about a hand injury Depp received on set and believed all appropriate arrangements in relation to the dogs had been made.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2016, with the headline 'Depp's wife gets off with good behaviour bond'. Print Edition | Subscribe