Ben Roberts-Smith hired a private investigator to follow his mistress to hospital

Ben Roberts-Smith hired a private investigator to follow his mistress to hospital
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Ben Roberts-Smith hired a private investigator to follow his mistress to hospital after she told him she was going to abort their child while he was separated from his wife.

Mr Roberts-Smith told the Federal Court on Tuesday he had not believed the woman, known as Person 17, was pregnant and so asked John McLeod to film her attending a Brisbane abortion clinic.

‘It became evident that she certainly had not had a procedure that day,’ he said.

Mr Roberts-Smith said he confronted Person 17 and she said she had undergone an abortion in Townsville, then that she had miscarried.

She later admitted she had made up the abortion story because she did not want him to leave her.

Australia’s most decorated soldier was giving evidence in his defamation trial against Nine newspapers, which has accused him of war crimes and domestic violence. 

Mr Roberts-Smith said he had separated from his wife Emma at the end of September 2017 and met Person 17 the next month.

Ben Roberts-Smith hired a private investigator to follow his mistress to hospital after she told him she was going to abort their child while he was separated from his wife

Australia's most decorated soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, has denied punching a woman with whom he was having an affair in the face after a Parliament House function in 2018. He is pictured with ex-wife Emma Roberts and their children

Australia’s most decorated soldier, Ben Roberts-Smith, has denied punching a woman with whom he was having an affair in the face after a Parliament House function in 2018. He is pictured with ex-wife Emma Roberts and their children

Ben Roberts-Smith is suing three newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald over claims he is a war criminal, bullied comrades and punched a woman in the face

Ben Roberts-Smith is suing three newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald over claims he is a war criminal, bullied comrades and punched a woman in the face

Mr Roberts Smith said he had not initially told his wife about the relationship with Person 17 and did not make their separation public.

The break had been amicable; Mrs Roberts continued to help with her husband’s public speaking business and he had at first stayed in ‘separate quarters’ within their family home.   

On Boxing Day that year Mr Roberts-Smith received a telephone call from Person 17’s husband saying she and their children would be better off with him.

‘It was quite a bizarre phone call,’ Mr Roberts-Smith told the court.

Mr Roberts-Smith did not tell his wife about the relationship until they travelled to Singapore with their two children in January 2018 to see if they could work through issues which had plagued their marriage since 2015.

‘The problem, from my perspective, was that I had not told my wife that I had started a relationship with Person 17,’ he told the court. ‘She did not know that and nor did I think that I was entitled to have a relationship with Person 17. 

‘In the interests of trying to move forward and have any hope of successfully maintaining our relationship, I decided I needed to tell her.’ 

The couple’s separation continued after that trip but the pair felt they wanted to keep trying to make their marriage work.

‘It certainly wasn’t the end of our relationship,’ Mr Roberts-Smith told the court.

Ben Roberts-Smith hired private investigator John McLeod to follow his mistress when she said she was getting an abortion. Mr McLeod is pictured with drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, a former client

Ben Roberts-Smith hired private investigator John McLeod to follow his mistress when she said she was getting an abortion. Mr McLeod is pictured with drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, a former client

Ben Roberts-Smith will spend the next two months in room 18D at the Law Courts Building in the central business district defending himself against claims he is a war criminal

Ben Roberts-Smith will spend the next two months in room 18D at the Law Courts Building in the central business district defending himself against claims he is a war criminal

In February, Person 17 and her husband had travelled to London with their children, and Mr Roberts-Smith broke off the affair.

From there, she messaged the former soldier to say ‘the world would be better off without her – I didn’t have to worry about her anymore.’

‘It was clearly meant to be letting me know she was potentially going to self-harm,’ Mr Roberts-Smith said.

Person 17 then went missing for 24 hours and did not answer texts or calls. 

Mr Roberts-Smith later received a text message from Person 17’s husband. ‘In substance, he said I was supposed to look after her and I’d stuffed up, so I had better home she comes home.’

After Person 17 had been missing more than a day she rang Mr Roberts-Smith to say she was hurt. He said she should go home because her family cared about her and needed her in their life.

Later in February back in Australia Person 17 called Mr Roberts-Smith to say she needed to see him about a serious matter. 

Asked why they need to meet face-to-face Person 17 texted to say she was pregnant and in the coming days they agreed she should have an abortion.

Mr Roberts-Smith did not believe she was pregnant and asked Mr McLeod, who he knew as a private investigator, to follow her to a termination appointment.

‘I just wanted to know the truth,’ Roberts-Smith told the court. ‘I felt that I was about to be manipulated and didn’t feel the situation that was transpiring was real.’ 

Mr McLeod, a former bodyguard to drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, produced video taken at the hospital that convinced Mr Roberts-Smith that Person 17 had not had an abortion.

‘She walked out the front and was able to pick up her own bag, looked normal as if she had just stepped out of her workplace or off a plane. Was dressed nicely, no issues at all.’

Mr Roberts-Smith later showed Person 17 the video and she claimed to have had an abortion in Townsville, then that she had miscarried. ‘So now I had three stories as to what was actually going on,’ he told the court.

Mr Roberts-Smith was concerned about Person’s 17 wellbeing and felt he was being manipulated to maintain the relationship, which he tried, but it did not last.

Together they attended a function hosted by then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull at Parliament House on March 28, 2018. 

The court heard Person 17 became so intoxicated at the function she fell down a set of stairs leading to an underground car park and suffered serious injuries to her face.

Mr Roberts-Smith said the night of the Parliament House fall spelt the end of his relationship with Person 17, who had apologised for her conduct.

‘It effectively was the final straw,’ he said.

Nicholas Owens SC for Nine newspapers told the court that the day after Person 17 attended a function with Mr Roberts-Smith at Parliament House she exchanged text messages with the former soldier about injuries she had sustained to her head

Nicholas Owens SC for Nine newspapers told the court that the day after Person 17 attended a function with Mr Roberts-Smith at Parliament House she exchanged text messages with the former soldier about injuries she had sustained to her head

The formal break-up was done over dinner in early April and a final night together in a hotel near Brisbane Airport.

Nine newspapers later published a story claiming Mr Roberts-Smith had argued with Person 17 after the function and was angry out of fear she had exposed their affair. 

The papers claim that in response to Person 17 saying, ‘My head hurts’, Mr Roberts-Smith had said, ‘It’s going to hurt more’ or ‘I’ll show you what hurt is’ and punched her in the left eye. 

Barrister Bruce McClintock SC for Mr Roberts-Smith has said the woman made no allegation of assault against his client until after he ended their relationship.

Mr McClintock asked Mr Roberts-Smith how he felt about being accused of domestic violence by the newspapers.

‘That particular allegation, I feel, combined with being called a war criminal, has ruined my life,’ he said.

‘For a long time I found it very difficult to leave the house after that.’

 Mr Roberts-Smith denied ever hitting Person 17 and said domestic violence was ‘deplorable’ and ‘a disgusting act of of cowardice’.

‘I have no tolerance for anyone who would ever raise their hand against a woman,’ he told the court.

Mr Roberts-Smith and his new girlfriend Sarah Matulin attended the Magic Millions together on the Queensland Gold Coast in January this year. His ex-wife Emma Roberts is due to give evidence against him in his defamation case against Nine newspapers

Mr Roberts-Smith and his new girlfriend Sarah Matulin attended the Magic Millions together on the Queensland Gold Coast in January this year. His ex-wife Emma Roberts is due to give evidence against him in his defamation case against Nine newspapers

Mr McClintock said Nine was falsely alleging Mr Roberts-Smith had punched Person 17 in exactly the same place where she had been injured in the fall.

Nicholas Owens SC, for Nine, told the court that the day after the Parliament House incident Mr Roberts-Smith and Person 17 exchanged text messages about what had occurred.

She had written: ‘I feel awful. I made a doctor’s appointment for this afternoon after speaking to [her husband] and sent him a photo.’

Mr Roberts-Smith allegedly replied: ‘Does he think I did it?’

Person 17: ‘Yeah, he did to begin with and he didn’t believe I had fallen down stairs. I just told him what we talked about.’

She had also said: ‘I’ve got some other bruises including a massive one on my thigh on the same side of my body which will hopefully make the falling story more believable.’

Mr Roberts-Smith allegedly replied: ‘OK well hopefully he believes you.’ 

He told the court he had asked if Person 17’s husband thought he had hit her because she was getting around with a large bruise on her head. 

Mr McClintock said within a week of Person 17 sustaining the injuries she went to the Roberts-Smith matrimonial home and told his then wife she had been having an affair with her husband.

Ms Roberts and her mother asked about Person 17’s facial injuries and she said she had fallen down stairs, Mr McClintock told the court.

Person 17 said the same thing to a doctor and a complaint she later made to police was eventually withdrawn. 

Ms Roberts is set to give evidence against her now former husband for Nine. 

What we know about Ben Roberts-Smith and the ‘trial of the century’ 

Ben Roberts-Smith is suing Nine-owned newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, plus The Canberra Times over allegations he committed battlefield crimes including murder.

His case, being heard in the Federal Court in Sydney, is expected to last ten weeks and is being bankrolled by his employer, the Seven Network’s billionaire owner Kerry Stokes.

Mr Roberts-Smith served six operational tours in Afghanistan with the elite Special Air Service and left the regular army in 2013 with the rank of corporal.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions at Tizak in June 2010 and the Medal for Gallantry for an earlier battle near the Chora Pass in May 2006.

The newspapers will plead that Mr Roberts-Smith was complicit in and responsible for the murders of six people in Afghanistan, and that those actions constituted war crimes.

Nine alleges Mr Roberts-Smith killed insurgents who had been captured and none of the killings was the result of decisions made in the heat of battle.

Mr Roberts-Smith has also been accused of bullying other SAS troopers and punching a woman in the face at a Parliament House function in 2018, which he denies.

The 42-year-old says some of his onetime colleagues who are making allegations against him are jealous of his feats of soldiering and are telling lies.

He is the first witness to give evidence. His testimony will be followed by what is likely to be a week of cross-examination by lawyers for Nine.

Character witnesses will then testify on his behalf, followed by witnesses for the newspapers.

Mr Robert-Smith’s ex-wife Emma Roberts, the mother of his two children, is expected to give evidence for the publisher after ‘flipping’ sides.

Ms Roberts’ friend Danielle Scott, John McLeod – a former bodyguard of drug smuggler Schapelle Corby – alleged Afghani eye-witnesses and 21 serving and former SAS members will also be called by Nine.

Mr Roberts-Smith’s team will then call evidence from his other witnesses, understood to include former SAS comrades.

Mr Roberts-Smith's ex-wife Emma has 'flipped' and is giving evidence for Nine Entertainment. The former couple is pictured together at a reception to celebrate military and civilian heroes in London in 2012

Mr Roberts-Smith’s ex-wife Emma has ‘flipped’ and is giving evidence for Nine Entertainment. The former couple is pictured together at a reception to celebrate military and civilian heroes in London in 2012

Mr Roberts-Smith is suing Nine-owned newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, plus The Canberra Times over allegations he committed battlefield crimes including murder. 

His case is being bankrolled by his employer, the Seven Network’s billionaire owner Kerry Stokes. 

The former soldier has taken leave as general manager of Seven’s Queensland operations for the duration of the hearing. 

Last week, Roberts-Smith told the court his heart was broken when he was publicly accused of war crimes while serving with the SAS in Afghanistan.

‘I spent my life fighting for my country and I did everything I possibly could to ensure I did it with honour,’ he told the court.

‘I listened to that and I really cannot comprehend how people, on the basis of rumour and innuendo, can maintain that in a public forum. It breaks my heart actually.

Asked by Mr McClintock how it felt to be specifically accused of murder, Mr Roberts-Smith said, ‘It’s devastating quite frankly.’

Mr Roberts-Smith is pictured shaking hands with the Queen at Buckingham Palace at a reception for the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association in 2018

Mr Roberts-Smith is pictured shaking hands with the Queen at Buckingham Palace at a reception for the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association in 2018 

Mr Roberts-Smith’s evidence followed a brief opening statement by Nicholas Owens SC on behalf of the newspapers.

Mr Owens said Nine newspapers would call 21 serving and former SAS soldiers to give evidence against their former comrade.

He wanted to outline the core of the case so there could be no misconception about Nine’s position.  

Mr Owens said none of the six murders Nine alleged Mr Roberts-Smith committed were the result of decisions made in the heat of battle or under ‘the fog of war’.

‘None of those six murders involve judgement calls,’ he told the court. None of the killings came about due to confusion over whether someone was an insurgent or civilian.

The former soldier has taken leave as general manager of Seven’s Queensland operations for the duration of the hearing 

Mr Owens said each of the alleged murders involved the killing of Afghans in custody and were breaches of the Geneva Conventions which govern the rules of war.

‘The rules of engagement under which Australian troops operated in Afghanistan were – and indeed had to be – consistent with the Geneva Conventions.

‘And under the Geneva Conventions once a person has been placed under control, no matter that he may be without a shadow of a doubt the most brutal, vile member of the Taliban imaginable, an Australian soldier cannot kill him.’ 

Mr Owens said Mr Roberts-Smith had over years tried to undermine Nine’s evidence by attempting to influence witnesses via emails and telephone calls.

Mr Roberts-Smith served six operational tours in Afghanistan with the elite Special Air Service and left the regular army in 2013 with the rank of corporal. 

He was awarded the Victoria Cross, the country’s top military honour, for ‘selfless actions in circumstances of great peril’ while hunting a senior Taliban commander at Tizak in June 2010. 

The parents of Mr Roberts-Smith, Len and Sue Roberts-Smith depart the Federal Court.  Mr Roberts-Smith is a former judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia

The parents of Mr Roberts-Smith, Len and Sue Roberts-Smith depart the Federal Court.  Mr Roberts-Smith is a former judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia

Australia's most decorated soldier Ben Roberts-Smith is suing three newspapers and three journalists he says destroyed his reputation as a war hero. Mr Roberts-Smith is pictured arriving at the Federal Court

Australia’s most decorated soldier Ben Roberts-Smith is suing three newspapers and three journalists he says destroyed his reputation as a war hero. Mr Roberts-Smith is pictured arriving at the Federal Court

Mr Roberts-Smith had drawn enemy fire away from pinned-down members of his patrol, stormed two enemy machinegun posts and silenced them.

He had previously been awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his actions as a patrol scout and sniper near the Chora Pass in May 2006.

In his lawsuit, Mr Roberts-Smith alleges the newspapers and journalists Nick McKenzie, Chris Masters and David Wroe defamed him in what was then the Fairfax press in 2018.

Among his claims is that the publications wrongly made out that he ‘broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement and is therefore a criminal.’

Mr Roberts-Smith says the newspapers falsely implied his alleged conduct had disgraced his country and the army.

Nine Entertainment Co, the media giant which now owns the Herald and Age, is defending their journalists’ claims on the basis the allegations are true. 

The newspapers will plead that Mr Roberts-Smith was complicit in and responsible for the murders of six people in Afghanistan, and that those alleged actions constituted war crimes. 

Mr Roberts-Smith has been the first witness of an expected 60 to be called at what is estimated to be a ten-week trial. 

The court has already heard Mr Roberts-Smith lost $475,000 in earnings from public speaking engagements after he was accused of war crimes and domestic violence.

In his lawsuit, Mr Roberts-Smith alleges Nine's newspapers and its journalists Nick McKenzie (pictured), David Wroe and Chris Masters defamed him in the then Fairfax press in 2018

In his lawsuit, Mr Roberts-Smith alleges Nine’s newspapers and its journalists Nick McKenzie (pictured), David Wroe and Chris Masters defamed him in the then Fairfax press in 2018

Mr McClintock said the effect of those stories had been to ‘smash and destroy’ Mr Roberts-Smith’s previously exalted reputation. 

‘In 2018 when this material was published there could not have been a former soldier better known or more highly respected than my client,’ Mr McClintock told the court. 

Mr Roberts-Smith would be seeking aggravated damages because according to Mr McClintock, the publisher knew some of their claims to be false. 

The stories had been presented in a ‘sensational’ manner, included ‘unjustifiable allegations of murder’ and had not been withdrawn.

Whereas Mr Roberts-Smith was once much in demand as a speaker, after the stories were published even invitations to Anzac Day ceremonies stopped.   

The former soldier had also been offered a partnership in a big accounting firm on a salary higher than he was earning with Seven West Media. 

Mr Roberts-Smith is also suing his ex-wife Emma Roberts, claiming she broke into his email account. She is pictured outside her Brisbane home on Friday

Mr Roberts-Smith is also suing his ex-wife Emma Roberts, claiming she broke into his email account. She is pictured outside her Brisbane home on Friday 

Mr McClintock said it was ‘not a competition’ to set records for damages payouts but his client would need a sufficient amount to be compensated for the loss of his reputation and hurt.  

‘The more serious the attack the greater the amount of money that’s necessary to vindicate,’ Mr McClintock said. 

He said an accountant would estimate Mr Roberts-Smith had lost $475,000 from speaking engagements alone. 

Mr McClintock also confirmed former governor-general Dame Quentin Bryce, who had presented Mr Roberts-Smith with his VC, would not be giving character evidence on his behalf ‘for personal reasons’ but had never withdrawn her support. 

Mr McClintock told the court his client had been the victim of jealous former comrades who falsely accused him of committing war crimes.

Mr Roberts-Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross for 'selfless' actions in Afghanistan and will now fight for his reputation in the Federal Court, claiming he was smeared by media giant Nine Entertainment

Mr Roberts-Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross for ‘selfless’ actions in Afghanistan and will now fight for his reputation in the Federal Court, claiming he was smeared by media giant Nine Entertainment

‘This is a case about courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice and perhaps most important of all, surpassing skill in soldiering,’ Mr McClintock told Justice Anthony Besanko.

‘On the other hand, your Honour, it’s a case about dishonest journalism, corrosive jealousy, cowardice and lies. 

‘It’s also about how a man with a deservedly high reputation for courage, skill and decency… had that reputation destroyed by bitter people jealous of his courage and success as a solider, particularly his Victoria Cross, aided by credulous journalists.’ 

Mr McClintock said the former soldiers who made claims against Mr Roberts-Smith had not spoken up until years after the events they now complained about.

He suggested some of their claims were made out of jealousy over Mr Roberts-Smith’s medals for gallantry and their own failures as soldiers. 

Mr McClintock said one false allegation Mr Roberts-Smith murdered an Afghani, which was recently withdrawn by Nine, should lead to aggravated damages.

During his fifth tour of duty in Afghanistan, Mr Roberts-Smith (pictured) drew enemy fire away from pinned-down members of his patrol, stormed two enemy machine-gun posts and silenced them

During his fifth tour of duty in Afghanistan, Mr Roberts-Smith (pictured) drew enemy fire away from pinned-down members of his patrol, stormed two enemy machine-gun posts and silenced them

Mr Roberts-Smith is pictured with the prosthetic leg of a fallen Afghani that was kept at the SAS base and used as a drinking vessel. Mr McClintock said this might seem in bad taste, 'but in the scheme of human wickedness it does not rate very high.' Mr Roberts-Smiths denies ever drinking from the leg

Mr Roberts-Smith is pictured with the prosthetic leg of a fallen Afghani that was kept at the SAS base and used as a drinking vessel. Mr McClintock said this might seem in bad taste, ‘but in the scheme of human wickedness it does not rate very high.’ Mr Roberts-Smiths denies ever drinking from the leg

Mr McClintock said the jealousy towards his client escalated after he was awarded the Victoria Cross, when he became famous outside military circles.

The court heard that on Mr Roberts-Smith’s last deployment to Afghanistan in 2012 he would find messages such as ‘RS is after another medal’ on a noticeboard at the Australians’ headquarters.

Mr McClintock said by 2012 the workload Mr Roberts-Smith endured was ‘almost inhumane’ but he coped better with repeated deployments than many of his colleagues.

After Mr Roberts-Smith left the army, completed a MBA and had business success, the ‘poisonous campaign’ of envy against him increased.

‘Some might call it the tall poppy syndrome,’ Mr McClintock said. ‘Others might just call it jealousy.’ 

'I'm feeling good mate, looking forward to finally setting the record straight,' Mr Roberts-Smith told Daily Mail Australia ahead of the hearing

‘I’m feeling good mate, looking forward to finally setting the record straight,’ Mr Roberts-Smith told Daily Mail Australia ahead of the hearing

Former governor-general Dame Quentin Bryce pinned Mr Roberts-Smith's Victoria Cross to his chest (pictured) and was expected to give a character reference at trial, however reports have claimed she has withdrawn

Former governor-general Dame Quentin Bryce pinned Mr Roberts-Smith’s Victoria Cross to his chest (pictured) and was expected to give a character reference at trial, however reports have claimed she has withdrawn

After Mr Roberts-Smith gives evidence he will face what is likely to be a week of cross-examination by lawyers for Nine. 

Character witnesses will then testify on his behalf, followed by witnesses for Nine.

Mr Robert-Smith’s ex-wife Emma Roberts, the mother of his two children, is expected to give evidence for the publisher after ‘flipping’ sides. 

Ms Roberts’ friend Danielle Scott, John McLeod – a former bodyguard of drug smuggler Schapelle Corby – alleged Afghani eye-witnesses and a handful of soldiers will also be called by Nine in the main trial. 

Then Mr Roberts-Smith’s team will call evidence from his other witnesses, understood to include former SAS comrades. 

Among Mr Roberts-Smith's claims is that the Nine Entertainment publications wrongly made out that he 'broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement and is therefore a criminal.' Mr Roberts-Smith is pictured in Afghanistan

Among Mr Roberts-Smith’s claims is that the Nine Entertainment publications wrongly made out that he ‘broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement and is therefore a criminal.’ Mr Roberts-Smith is pictured in Afghanistan



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