Sydney brain surgeon acquitted of bashing wife
A world-renowned Sydney brain surgeon looks forward to getting back to "what he does best" after being acquitted of bashing his wife.
St Vincent's Hospital head of neurosurgery Dr Timothy Steel was accused of drunkenly punching, kicking and ripping out the hair extensions of his wife Emma as they struggled over her mobile phone at the couple's luxurious eastern suburbs home.
On Thursday the 56-year-old was found not guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault and property damage at Downing Centre Local Court.
Magistrate Vivien Swain ruled there were inconsistencies in the accounts given by the former model.
"Self defence has been properly raised and accepted," she said.
"I've also taken into account the character of the accused."
The millionaire doctor's lawyer said there are no winners because the scandal has "devastated his family."
"His wife was not found to be a credible witness and of course Dr Steel was. He's maintained his innocence and fortunately today justice was delivered," Paul McGirr said outside court.
"He just looks forward to getting back to do what he does best as one of Australia's top brain and spinal surgeons."
The court heard that in December 2019 Mrs Steel told police she was "petrified" when her husband turned violent after returning home drunk from his work Christmas party at 6am on December 14.
But Dr Steel, who was suspended from practising when the allegations came to light in February, claimed he was attacked in his bed by his furious partner who suspected him to be cheating with his secretary.
In police interview footage taken in the aftermath of the incident, a visibly shaken Mrs Steel claimed the phone contained pictures of injuries from previous instances of abuse.
Mrs Steel claimed her partner tried to destroy the evidence by submerging it in the pool of their sprawling Bellevue Hill home, but he insisted he jumped in the pool to get away from her.
Dr Steel said he was forced to push his screaming wife off him that night after she grabbed and scratched him.
"I'm not satisfied the accused punched or slapped the complainant," Ms Swain said.
Mr McGirr asked Mrs Steel if she became enraged after finding out, through accessing an iPad synched with her husband's phone, Dr Steel had been in a hotel room with his receptionist Angie Turner.
"I wasn't angry, I already knew there was an affair going on," she said during fiery cross-examination.
"You jumped on him and clawed his face," Mr McGirr said.
Mrs Steel denied the allegation, insisting: "I'm not a violent person."
Ms Turner and Dr Steel both denied they were in a romantic relationship while giving evidence.
Mr McGirr argued Mrs Steel tried to "sully my client's reputation" to get her way, including fabricating an allegation that the doctor used cocaine.
Mrs Steel told police she confronted her intoxicated husband of 11 years when he got home because the couple had planned lunch with their neighbours at Rose Bay institution Catalina later that day, and she tried to rouse him.
The 41-year-old told police she said "I know where you were" all night, when Dr Steel suddenly jumped up and began wrestling his wife for her phone.
"He grabbed my hair, pulled my hair, ripped out my extensions," she said in the footage. "He kicks me, he's pushing me. I was calling out for help."
The court was shown mobile phone images of bruises on Mrs Steel's legs and arms, and pictures of Dr Steel's scratched body, which she testified were the result of the "struggle" that spanned two bedrooms.
In a police video Mrs Steel claimed it was not the first time Dr Steel had physically assaulted her, adding that she was also the victim of "financial abuse."
Mrs Steel said he withheld money as a form of control, but the court has heard Dr Steel paid his wife a $24,000 monthly allowance.
"I'm petrified because of the ongoing abuse," she said.
"He's told me he wants to get rid of me. He's told me if I don't sign the post-nup (sic) our marriage is over."
Dr Steel, who earns up to six million dollars annually, denied the allegations while the magistrate was not satisfied it was proven either.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Sydney brain surgeon acquitted of bashing wife