Ben Roberts-Smith’s ex-wife has denied setting out to destroy his reputation after he was accused of committing war crimes in Afghanistan.
Emma Roberts told the Federal Court she did not hate her former husband, despite texts messages being revealed in which she called him a ‘dog,’ a ‘motherf***er’ and a ‘c**t’.
Ms Roberts is giving evidence for Nine newspapers, the publisher Mr Roberts-Smith is suing for defamation in what has been dubbed the defamation ‘trial of the century’.
On Tuesday the mother-of-two denied she wanted to do personal harm to the Victoria Cross recipient, with whom she went through a bitter divorce.
Nine has accused Australia’s most decorated soldier of killing or being complicit in the murders of six unarmed prisoners while serving with the Special Air Service.
Ben Roberts-Smith’s ex-wife has denied she set out to destroy him after he was accused of committing war crimes in Afghanistan. Emma Roberts told the Federal Court she did not hate her former husband, despite calling him a ‘motherf***er’ and ‘c**t’
Ms Roberts is giving evidence for Nine newspapers, the publisher Mr Roberts-Smith is suing for defamation in what has been dubbed the defamation ‘trial of the century’. On Tuesday the mother-of-two denied she wanted to do personal harm to the Victoria Cross recipient
Mr Roberts-Smith took several swipes at his ex-wife while giving evidence in the defamation trial last June. ‘It’s very sad that my my wife has involved herself in these proceedings, Your Honour,’ he told Justice Anthony Besanko. Mr Roberts-Smith is pictured on Tuesday
Bruce McClintock, for Mr Roberts-Smith, said to Ms Roberts: ‘You’d like to see my client lose this case, wouldn’t you?’
Ms Roberts: ‘No’.
‘I hope Ben survives this nightmare.’
Earlier, Mr McClintock read a series of text messages Ms Roberts had exchanged with her lifelong friend Danielle Scott over the past couple of years.
In November 2020, Ms Scott had told Ms Roberts the pair needed to work together to get her finances in order.
‘Then it doesn’t matter what happens to him or what jail cell he rots in,’ Ms Scott wrote.
Ms Roberts replied by saying ‘Yes’, followed by a praying hands emoji.
Emma Roberts has told of her confrontation with her ex-husband’s mistress when she revealed their affair to him on the front lawn of the marital home. Ms Roberts said she spent three hours reading texts between the lovers before she withdrew $50,000 from their joint bank account
Bruce McClintock SC, for Mr Roberts-Smith has read a series of text messages Ms Roberts had exchanged with her lifelong friend Danielle Scott over the past couple of years. In one, Ms Roberts said: ‘I’m actually so f***ing angry today. I want to punch the f***ing c**t in the face’
Mr McClintock asked Ms Roberts if the emoji meant she wanted Mr Roberts-Smith to rot in prison.
‘No, I absolutely would not,’ she said.
‘In that context it means that I would very much like to have my finances set up.’
Later in the exchange with Ms Scott the pair agreed it was unlikely Mr Roberts-Smith will go to prison, although Ms Roberts described him as a ‘lying, cheating c**t human’.
She also signed off one message #Titanic, and agreed with Mr McClintock that was a reference to the famous passenger ship going down.
But she did not hate her ex-husband and was not seeking revenge against him.
‘I was very frustrated in a very, very bigger divorce, yes,’ she said. ‘I don’t think I hated Ben though. I was very frustrated with Ben at the time.’
In another text Ms Roberts wrote to Ms Scott of her husband: ‘Just ran into the c**t at the coffee shop’.
Ben Roberts-Smith’s defamation trial has taken another turn as his wife steps into the witness box to give evidence against Australia’s most decorated living soldier. Emma Roberts, who has dropped the Smith from her surname, is appearing in the Federal Court in Sydney
Mr McClintock had previously asked Ms Roberts to read text messages in which she described Mr Roberts-Smith in derogatory terms.
On January 29, 2020 she had sent a text to Ms Scott: ‘I’m actually so f***ing angry today. I want to punch the f***ing c**t in the face.’
On February 7 that year Ms Roberts said of Mr Roberts-Smith, ‘He’s such a mother****er’.
On other occasions she said, ‘His voice makes my skin crawl’, ‘I know how the c**t works’ and called him a ‘dog’ and a ‘houso’.
Ms Roberts said she had been angry at the time.
On Monday, Ms Roberts detailed how she suspected her then husband was having an affair during a difficult period in their marriage.
She told the court that Mr Roberts-Smith’s behaviour became ‘very, very different’ during late 2017 and the pair underwent counselling.
Mr Roberts-Smith has admitted having an affair with a woman known in the trial as Person 17 from October 2017 until April the following year.
Mr Roberts-Smith has admitted having an affair with a woman known in the trial as Person 17 from October 2017 until April the following year. Mr Roberts-Smith has given evidence he separated from his wife in September 2017 but they eventually reconciled
Ms Roberts, who dropped the Smith from her surname after their split, stepped into the witness box in the Federal Court wearing a black dress on Monday
He has given evidence he separated from his wife in September 2017 but they eventually reconciled. Mr Roberts-Smith is now 43, Ms Roberts is 46 and they have twin 11-year-old daughters.
Ms Roberts said the couple married on December 6, 2003 and parted on January 20, 2020. She denies they ever previously separated other than for a brief period about 2005.
Several times she rejected accusations by Mr McClintock that she was lying.
Mr Roberts-Smith has said he told his wife of the affair with Person 17 in January 2018 while they were on a family holiday in Singapore, which she has also denied.
Ms Roberts, who dropped the Smith from her surname after her marriage ended, only suspected her husband was having an affair until Person 17 confronted her in April 2018, she told the court.
Mr Roberts-Smith has admitted having an affair with a woman known in his defamation trial as Person 17 from October 2017 until April the following year. Mr Roberts-Smith is now 43, Ms Roberts is 46 and they have twin twin 11-year-old daughters. The former couple is pictured
‘In the back of my mind I knew that Ben was lying to me and I was terrified of what it now looked like,’ Ms Roberts said of the affair and her marriage’s future.
Ms Roberts said she had heard what she thought was another mobile vibrate in their bedroom but her husband denied having a second phone when she asked him.
‘His behaviour was very, very different to what it had been during our marriage,’ she told Justice Anthony Besanko.
Mr Roberts-Smith turned his phone off when he travelled and the couple’s conversations were limited. When he was away on one occasion she heard another phone ring in the background.
‘He would constantly be taking selfies of himself and I knew they weren’t for me,’ Ms Roberts told the court.
Ms Roberts had initially been on her ex-husband’s side when he launched legal action against Nine newspapers after the publisher accused him of war crimes. She is pictured outside her Brisbane home
During a Singapore holiday Mr Roberts-Smith had been ‘very erratic’ and Ms Roberts regularly spoke to her best friend Danielle Scott about the likelihood he was having an affair.
‘I suspected he was seeing somebody else,’ Ms Roberts told the court. ‘I had my doubts. He kept denying it to me.’
Ms Roberts told the court the the first she knew of the affair was on April 6, 2018, when Person 17 turned up unannounced at the couple’s house.
Person 17 had gone to the Roberts-Smith home on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and called Ms Roberts from their housekeeper’s phone.
When Ms Roberts arrived at the house Person 17 was sitting with her parents in the front garden. She was wearing a pink and black dress, a ‘very big’ pair of black sunglasses and was crying.
‘Please remove your sunglasses so I can see your face,’ Ms Roberts said she told her.
‘She took them off and I noticed a black eye. I asked her, “What happened to your face?” She said, “I fell down drunk on a set of stairs at Parliament House”.’
Mr Roberts-Smith had an affair with a woman known in the trial as Person 17 from October 2017 until April 2018. He claims he separated from his wife in September 2017 but Ms Roberts says that never happened. This picture was taken on December 31, 2017
Nine alleges Mr Roberts-Smith had punched Person 17 in the head in a Canberra hotel room after a Parliament House function on March 28, which he vehemently denies.
‘I asked her why she came to the house, what was it she wanted,’ Ms Roberts told the court. ‘I asked her whether she had come for money or whether she was going to the press.
‘She said, “I’m not a prostitute”.’
Ms Roberts spent three hours reading text exchanges between Person 17 and her husband. There were pictures of the pair together and pictures of the Roberts-Smith children.
‘It was very clear that they were having an affair,’ she said. ‘They were planning to be together.’
‘She told me that she had fallen pregnant during the relationship. She told me that it was definitely Ben’s because I asked if it was her husband’s.
‘I said, “Did you lose it or did you have an abortion?” and she didn’t answer me.’
Earning the Victoria Cross turned Mr Roberts-Smith into a celebrity solider. Ms Roberts met the Queen and dignitaries including Prime Minister Scott Morrison while accompanying her husband to functions around the country. He is pictured with his then wife and the Queen
Later that day after picking up her children Ms Roberts had withdrawn $50,000 from a joint bank account and transferred the money into her parents’ names.
‘I knew my life was in complete chaos,’ she said. That money was later returned to the couple.
Mr Roberts-Smith had come home and discussed what happened with Person 17 with his wife. She asked him how he could ever live with himself.
‘We stayed up until midnight,’ Ms Roberts said. ‘He told me about their relationship.’
Ms Roberts said Mr Roberts-Smith spent that night in the spare room but despite all that Person 17 had told her she still didn’t want to leave her husband.
‘I had made the decision to stay with Ben and try to work on our marriage,’ she told the court.
Ms Roberts said Mr Roberts-Smith told her the only way the marriage could survive was if she claimed the couple had been separated while he was in a relationship with Person 17.
‘I didn’t want to lie,’ she said. ‘There was enough lies.
‘He pointed to our daughters and said, “If you don’t lie you will lose them”. I knew at that point I had to lie for him.’
In August 2018 Ms Roberts posed for photographs for a newspaper story in which Mr Roberts-Smith said the couple had reconciled after separating.
That same month she sent a text to three friends in which she wrote, ‘Last year Ben and I separated for a short while.’
‘We kept this extremely private, it’s now been made very public and as you can imagine we are both devastated. In that time Ben saw someone else.’
Asked by Mr McClintock why she had claimed to have been separated during the affair Ms Roberts said, ‘Because I was told to lie about it’.
Ms Roberts has indicated she will claim Mr Roberts-Smith (pictured in Afghanistan in 2009) buried six USB sticks holding hundreds of photographs taken in the country
What we know about Ben Roberts-Smith and his ‘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, was expected to last ten weeks but has been delayed by Covid-19. It 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 unarmed prisoners 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 known as Person 17 in the face after a Parliament House function in 2018, which he denies.
The 43-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.
Mr Robert-Smith’s ex-wife Emma Roberts, the mother of his two children, is giving evidence for the publisher after ‘flipping’ sides.
Ms Roberts’ friend Danielle Scott and 21 serving and former SAS members are also listed as witnesses to be called by Nine.
Mr Roberts-Smith’s team will call evidence from witnesses including some of his former SAS comrades.