‘War on terrier’ comes to an end

Johnny Depp’s wife, Amber Heard pleads guilty for illegally importing pets to Australia

Reuters April 18, 2016
The magistrate issued a formal order to Heard to stay out of trouble for a month or face a $767 fine. PHOTO: FILE

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 his wife, actor 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 year.

Bringing an end to what the Australian media had gleefully 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 $767 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 learned that state prosecutors agreed to drop those charges when Heard pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of lying on an incoming passenger form when 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 AUD 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.

Depp made no comments before entering the courthouse other than brief pleasantries to  the waiting media. In court, Heard’s lawyers played a video apology in which the expressionless couple praised Australia’s biosecurity rules and Depp noted that “if you disrespect Australian law, they will tell you firmly”. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2016.

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