Sri Lanka cricketer arrested on rape charges

Sri Lankan cricketer Danushka Gunathilaka (left) is accused of choking a Sydney woman he met on Tinder in an alleged sexual assault that left her "fearing for her life" and requiring a brain scan, documents released by a Sydney court on Wednesday revealed.

The 31-year-old, who played one match in the ongoing T20 World Cup in Australia, was arrested on Sunday morning at Sydney's Hyatt Regency Hotel before the Sri Lankan team left for home.

He was later charged with four counts of sexual intercourse without consent. The cricketer was refused bail during a closed hearing on Monday at the Downing Centre Local Court.

According to the police, Gunathilaka and the 29-year-old complainant from Rose Bay matched on Tinder on Oct 29 and spoke on Instagram and WhatsApp including via video calls.

The pair arranged to meet at the Opera Bar in Sydney on Nov 2.

After a few drink at the bar, they went to the woman's home, where Gunathilaka is accused of engaging in "forceful" sexual intercourse and choking her.

Police said the woman was "frozen and in shock" when Gunathilaka left her house in a taxi.

She "told two friends what happened to her" the following day, spoke to a counselling service and went to her doctor before contacting police. She provided a statement and photos of the exchanges with the accused.

The complainant also underwent a sexual investigation and brain scan at a hospital to check for any injury that could have resulted from the alleged repeated choking.

Gunathilaka was arrested in the lift area of the hotel and consented to a search of his room and luggage.

He participated in a recorded police interview, assisted by an interpreter.

"The accused corroborates some parts of the complainant's version but denies any violence or lack of consent with respect to sexual activity," said the police.

"When asked specifically about the nature of consent conversations and actions, the accused had no recollection."

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has suspended Gunathilaka from all forms of the game and said it would "take necessary steps to promptly carry out an inquiry into the alleged offence".

SLC has since formed a three-member panel, which includes a retired high court judge, to probe the alleged sexual assault case.

Gunathilaka played a first round Twenty20 World Cup match against Namibia on Oct 16 but was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with a hamstring injury.

He has played nearly 100 one-day and T20 internationals for Sri Lanka as well as a handful of Tests.

The case is due to return to court on Jan 12.

Indo-Asian News Service

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