West Indies’ Cricket player Dwayne Smith arrives at the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney on October 24, 2017. Smith is a witness on the Chris Gayle vs. Fairfax trial. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media)
West Indies’ Cricket player Chris Gayle (right) arrives at the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney on October 24, 2017. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media)
West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle’s teammate Dwayne Smith has admitted he texted the word “sexy” to a female massage therapist a day before she alleges Gayle exposed himself to her in a Sydney dressing room while Smith was present.
But Smith told the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday Gayle had not exposed himself to the woman and “that’s something you would remember” if it did happen.
Gayle is suing Fairfax Media for defamation over a series of articles published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times between January 6 and January 9 last year which alleged he exposed himself to a team massage therapist during the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
Gayle, 38, gave evidence on Monday that the incident did not happen and the “heartbreaking” allegations were “the most hurtful thing I’ve actually come across in my entire life”.
Fairfax Media is defending the stories on two bases, including that the allegations are true.
The woman at the centre of the stories, massage therapist Leanne Russell, is expected to give evidence on Wednesday.
Gayle’s teammate Smith was present in the dressing room in Drummoyne in Sydney’s inner west at the time of the alleged incident on February 11, 2015.
During a brief stint in the witness box on Tuesday, Smith said repeatedly the alleged incident “did not happen”.
The court has heard the West Indies team received an email from team operations manager Sir Richie Richardson on February 12, 2015, saying Ms Russell had “encountered a few uncomfortable situations with members of the team” and reminding them to treat her with respect.
Smith denied reading or receiving the email and Gayle gave evidence on Monday he did not believe it referred to him.
Fairfax’s barrister, Matthew Collins, QC, asked Smith if he texted the word “sexy” to Ms Russell on February 10, a day before the alleged incident.
“I don’t recall,” Smith replied.
After he was shown a copy of the message, he accepted that he sent it to Ms Russell.
When it was put to him that he sent the text to Ms Russell while she was massaging him at the InterContinental Hotel in Sydney that afternoon, Smith said it could have been “a minute before”.
Asked if he had given “false evidence” about the alleged incident involving Gayle because he was “seeking to protect” his teammate, Smith replied: “What I said is true.”
“You yourself put Ms Russell in an uncomfortable position the day before on the 10th of February,” Dr Collins said.
“No I did not,” Smith replied.
Dr Collins told the four-person jury that Ms Russell would give evidence she was “devastated” to have been treated in such a “demeaning and disrespectful manner” by Gayle and “burst into tears” after leaving the dressing room.
Chloe Saltau, sports editor at The Age, gave evidence on Tuesday that Ms Russell contacted her on Facebook on January 5, 2016.
She said they did not socialise with one another but Ms Russell “was a work colleague of my husband”.
Ms Saltau said Ms Russell had told her she contacted her to “show support for [sports reporter] Mel McLaughlin and other women in sport” following Gayle’s famous “don’t blush baby” interview with Ms McLaughlin in January 2016.
Ms Saltau agreed to keep Ms Russell’s identity secret in the report. She told the court she believed it was “reasonable” to do so in the circumstances.
Bruce McClintock, SC, asked Ms Saltau if it crossed her mind Ms Russell might have been “a fabulist inclined to invent things”.
“I didn’t think that about her at all, no,” Ms Saltau said.
The court heard Ms Russell had told Ms Saltau there was another player in the room at the time of the alleged incident but did not reveal his identity.
“The fact is I didn’t know who he was so I couldn’t take steps to contact him,” Ms Saltau said.
“I believed that there were other ways of verifying the story, which is why we went to Richie Richardson and asked him for comment.”
Mr McClintock put it to Ms Saltau that the report was “disgracefully bad journalism, wasn’t it”.
“No, I disagree with that. It was a legitimate story,” Ms Saltau replied.
She denied “cutting corners” or being “frantic” to get the story out in the wake of the Mel McLaughlin interview.
The Herald’s chief sports reporter, Chris Barrett, gave evidence on Tuesday he approached Sir Richie Richardson about the story.
“Richie said he didn’t want to comment on that or …the [Mel McLaughlin] incident in Hobart,” Mr Barrett said.
“He was surprised, I suppose … He appeared alarmed that I had that information.”
The trial continues.