Johnny Depp's wife Amber Heard avoids jail in dog smuggling case

Johnny Depp's wife Amber Heard avoids jail in dog smuggling case

Actor Johnny Depp's wife Amber Heard has avoided jail after pleading guilty to providing a false immigration document amid allegations she smuggled the couple's dogs into Australia.

Prosecutors in Queensland state dropped two more serious charges that Heard illegally imported the Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, into the country last year, when Depp was filming the fifth movie in the Pirates Of The Caribbean series.

A conviction on the illegal importation counts could have sent the actress to prison for up to 10 years.

The false documents charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a fine of more than 10,000 Australian dollars (€6,774).

But magistrate Bernadette Callaghan sentenced Heard instead to a one month good behaviour bond.

She will have to pay a 1,000 Australian dollars fine (€680) if she violates the conditions of the bond over the next month.

The couple was swarmed by reporters when they arrived at court today.

They said little apart from Depp responding "fine, thank you," to reporters shouting questions about how they - and Pistol and Boo - were doing.

But Depp and Heard made a videotaped apology that was played in court during the hearing.

"If you disrespect Australian law they will tell you firmly," Depp says.

Heard's lawyer, Jeremy Kirk, told the court that his client never meant to lie on her incoming passenger card by failing to declare she had animals with her.

He said she was simply jetlagged and assumed her assistants had sorted out the paperwork.

Prosecutor Peter Callaghan said ignorance and fatigue were no excuse.

"The laws apply to everyone," he said.

The debacle over the dogs began last May, when agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce accused Depp of smuggling the tiny terriers aboard his private jet when he returned to Australia to resume filming.

Australia has strict quarantine regulations to prevent diseases such as rabies from spreading to its shores. Bringing pets into the country involves applying for a permit and quarantine on arrival of at least 10 days.

Mr Joyce said at the time: "If we start letting movie stars - even though they've been the sexiest man alive twice - to come into our nation (with pets), then why don't we just break the laws for everybody?"

Depp and Heard were given 72 hours to send Pistol and Boo back to the US, with officials warning that the dogs would otherwise be put down. The pooches boarded a flight home just hours before the deadline ran out.

The comments by Joyce, who is now deputy prime minister, elevated what might otherwise have been a local row into a global delight for comedians and broadcasters.

One newspaper ran a "doggie death countdown ticker" on its website that marked the hours remaining before the dogs had to flee the country, and comedian John Oliver dedicated a more than six-minute segment to lampooning the ordeal.

Depp himself poked fun at the drama during a press conference in Venice last year where he was asked if he planned to take the dogs for a gondola ride.

"No," he replied. "I killed my dogs and ate them, under direct orders from some kind of, I don't know, sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia."

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