Johnny Depp dogs case: Amber Heard pleads guilty

The war on terrier is over.

It may have cost them countless travel hours and, in the end, hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have had their day in court over the war that was declared against them almost a year ago.

Ms Heard, a 29-year-old actress, was sentenced to a one-month good behaviour bond in Southport Magistrates Court on Monday after pleading guilty to inadvertently falsifying her passenger arrival card when she flew into the country last year.

Both she and Depp, 52, her Hollywood superstar husband, could not hide the smiles from their faces when magistrate Bernadette Callaghan said she would not convict the actress, a move that would almost certainly have affected her ability to work globally.

It was a rather anti-climactic ending to one of the most high-profile quarantine cases in history, which began when former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce declared the pair and their two tiny fugitive terriers all public enemy number one to Australia's biosecurity.

In a case that attracted publicity worldwide, Mr Joyce went after Depp but the courts, at least, only managed to get his wife.

However, Mr Joyce may have had the last laugh, with the pair appearing in a short video about the importance of Australia's biosecurity. The video has been much-maligned as an abomination on social media.

In sentencing Ms Heard, magistrate Bernadette Callaghan acknowledged that Ms Heard did not deliberately seek to deceive authorities and both she had her husband had already paid a high price due to the enormous publicity surrounding the case.

"Ms Heard has never before deliberately flouted the laws of any country regarding her animals," Ms Callaghan said.

"I have no doubt this whole matter has had a real impact on Ms Heard and given the level of public scrutiny her and her husband have been subjected to, there is no doubt in my mind this won't happen again."

The Commonwealth agreed to drop two charges of illegal importation of an animal, which stemmed from the arrival of her two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, last April, in exchange for a plea of guilty on the document falsification charge.

In the Southport Magistrates Court on Monday morning, the case that arguably became Australia's most farcical last year had an almost equally farcical court sequel.

In a bizarre Hollywood-meets-the-Gold-Coast plea hearing, the glamour couple, both immaculately dressed in black suits, sat at the back of the courtroom on swivel chairs while Heard's case was put to magistrate Bernadette Callaghan.

Heard, her lawyer Jeremy Kirk SC, argued, did not deliberately falsify her arrival document, because she had been told her husband's "people" had sorted out all quarantine issues pertaining to the entry of Pistol and Boo to Australia.

His "people" always sorted out her visa and passport documentation requirements when the couple travelled internationally and this time was no different, he said.

Thinking all the necessary documentation had been arranged, she did not think she was required to declare the dogs on her arrival card at a private hangar at Brisbane Airport, where, Mr Kirk said, customs staff sought photos and autographs with Heard and Depp.

A rather morose video of the couple was played to the court, shot on the Gold Coast soon after their arrival on Sunday, in which both extol the virtues of Australia's unique flora and fauna, the threats not abiding by the law posed to the delicate balance of the country's eco-system and an apology intended as a public one by Heard.

Depp also threw in the obligatory flattery of the country's residents, in about a minute of screen time that gave no hint either participant made millions of dollars from being in front of the camera.

"Australians are unique too, warm and direct," he said. "If you break their laws, they'll tell you."

Heard had suffered, Mr Kirk said, due to the intense publicity that surrounded the discovery of Pistol and Boo last year, which was compounded by what "certain representatives of the Australian government have said", in a pointed dig at former agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce.

Mr Joyce, who has since risen to become Deputy Prime Minster, infamously threatened to have the dogs put down.

In the end, Heard's defence argued, her offending was at the lowest end of the scale.

She returned, not because she had to but because she wanted to, he said, to apologise.

"She has returned voluntarily to Australia, her and her husband have no reason to be here other than to be in this court today," he said.

"She did not need to be here but she has chosen to be here and subject herself to the attention, which will be obvious to your honour.

"It's obviously a very unusual matter and this is a very unusual step.

"Ms Heard wanted to offer a public apology."

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The story Johnny Depp dogs case: Amber Heard pleads guilty first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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