The British rescue diver who was branded "pedo guy" by Elon Musk has been left feeling "humiliated” and “dirtied” following the tweet, a court has heard.
Vernon Unsworth's voice cracked as he gave evidence in his defamation case against the billionaire Tesla co-founder in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Cave diver Mr Unsworth appeared on the verge of tears as he described the billionaire’s tweet , which he said was “very hurtful”.
Asked how he felt after seeing Mr Musk's tweeted, he replied: "It feels very raw. I feel humiliated. Ashamed. Dirtied.
"I feel very vulnerable. Especially when I'm in the UK. I feel sometimes very isolated. I have tried to deal with it on my own but I bottled it up."
Mr Unsworth, who helped with the perilous underwater rescue of children trapped in a Thai cave, dismissed Mr Musk's offer of aid as a publicity stunt.
The veteran cave explorer said of later being branded “pedo guy” in a tweet later by Mr Musk: “I find it disgusting”.
He added: "I find it very hard to even read the word, never mind talk about."
Mr Unsworth was then asked about a follow-up tweet from Mr Musk, in which he said words to the effect of "Don't you think it's strange he hasn't sued me?"
The diver said he was "obviously" aware of the post, and asked what it meant, replied: "If I did not (sue) it must be true. Which it is not."
The British diver said his name is now "tagged with being a paedophile".
Discussing the impact of the tweets, he said: "I have probably lost a bit of self-confidence. I have good days and bad days."
"I still feel dirtied," he added.
Mr Musk earlier told the court his “pedo guy” jibe was an insult to a man he thought was “creepy”, rather than a genuine accusation of paedophilia.
The Tesla founder is being sued for defamation by Mr Unsworth over the 2018 comment, made during the rescue of 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.
Mr Musk had offered to assist the perilous underwater bid but Mr Unsworth, who was later awarded an MBE for his efforts, turned down the offer and suggested it was little more than a “PR stunt”.
In a TV interview, Mr Unsworth, said the billionaire’s idea of using a small underwater vessel in the cave rescue would not work and he should “stick his submarine where it hurts”.
He said: “I just thought he was some random creepy guy the media were interviewing. I thought at the time he was unrelated to the rescue.”
Giving evidence, Mr Musk admitted the Twitter spat had been “not classy” but insisted the “pedo guy” comment was nothing more than an insult.
The trial continues.