A top Sydney neurosurgeon whose wife accuses him of assaulting her in their bedroom says he never laid a hand on her and it was she who attacked him.
Dr Timothy Steel told Downing Centre Local Court how his work Christmas party descended into police being called to the couple’s Bellevue Hills home the next morning.
Dr Steel’s wife Emma has accused her husband of kicking, punching and slapping her after he came home heavily intoxicated early one morning last year.
The former model alleges her husband had been having an affair with his receptionist, with whom he was in a hotel room on the night of the Christmas party.
Dr Timothy Steel told Downing Centre Local Court how his work Christmas party descended into police being called to the couple’s Bellevue Hills home the next morning
Dr Steel’s wife Emma has accused her husband of kicking, punching and slapping her after he came home heavily intoxicated early one morning last year. Couple pictured together in November 1 2005
Dr Steel’s wife Emma (pictured) has accused her husband of kicking, punching and slapping her after he came home heavily intoxicated early one morning last year
Dr Steel, who is said to earn between $6million and $8million a year, is facing charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault and damaging property.
The 56-year-old has categorically denied ever having an affair with the receptionist – or anyone else – during his marriage or of assaulting 41-year-old Mrs Steel.
Dr Steel said that on Friday, December 13 last year, he had organised a Christmas party at Woolloomooloo’s W Hotel for 50 to 60 guests.
Among those invited were friends, colleagues, nurses, radiographers, theatre staff and three receptionists.
Dr Steel said that morning his wife had been in a bad mood and while in the shower she had thrown a wet fake tanning mitt across the bathroom at him.
‘I hate you,’ Mrs Steel allegedly said. ‘Why don’t you just leave. Get out.’
Dr Steel said he performed surgery that day and then attended the W Hotel where the party had paid for drinks and canapes to be served from 6 to 9pm.
Mrs Steel arrived at the gathering with the couple’s children, sat in an area separate from the main party and stayed about an hour and a half.
‘She was aggressive, angry and hostile to me,’ Dr Steel told the court. ‘She would not speak to me and she told me to stay away.
‘She did not come anywhere near me. She was rude to my staff.’
Dr Steel said he left the party shortly after his wife tried to call his receptionist about 4.20am. Mrs Steel has accused of having an affair with that woman, a claim he said was untrue.
Dr Steel said his wife screamed at him with accusations he had been having an affair with his secretary Angie Turner (pictured left). His practice manager Stephanie Jobson is pictured right
The former model alleges her husband had been having an affair with his receptionist, with whom he was in a hotel room on the night of the Christmas party. She is pictured centre alongside Roxy Jacenko (left) and another friend (right) at a social event
Mrs Steel has said she confronted her husband while he was in bed about 8.45am and reminded him the couple was due at a well-known Rose Bay restaurant at 1pm.
‘I said to him, “Tim we’re not going to be able to go to lunch with our neighbours at Catalina,”‘ Mrs Steel said.
‘I was trying to talk to him and getting no response.’
Mrs Steel told the court her husband then allegedly attacked her, assaulting her four times with a punch to the head and stomach and a slap to the face.
She also accused him of pinning her down and ripping her hair extensions out.
After the alleged assault Dr Steel had run downstairs and jumped in the pool while holding his wife’s phone. Mrs Steel then called police.
Dr Steel said on Wednesday he had been sound asleep, face down in bed, when his wife woke him up by scratching his back and head.
‘I was awoken by severe pain in my back and behind my ears,’ he said. ”I was hit about three or four times.’
Dr Steel said his wife screamed at him with accusations he had been having an affair with his secretary Angie Turner.
He said she told him: ‘You’re a f***ing disgrace. I’t disgusting. You’ve been with Angie.
‘You were having sex with Angie. I had a private investigator following you. I’ve got everything I need.’
Pictured: Dr Steel, a senior neurosurgeon and spine surgeon at St Vincent’s Hospital
Dr Steel said there was a scuffle over a phone he thought was his but later turned out to belong to his wife. He denied ever hitting or intentionally hurting Mrs Steel.
‘My only preoccupation was to get the phone,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t understand why she continued to attack me and my only concern was getting out the door.
‘I had not done what my wife was accusing me of. I just wanted to stop being hit and get away.’
Ms Turner told the court she had never had anything other than a professional relationship with Dr Steel.
Any suggestion she had an affair with him was ‘ridiculous’.
After the Christmas party she had been in a hotel room with Dr Steel and practice manager Stephanie Jobson.
Dr Steele had paid for the room because Ms Turner lived in Cronulla and Ms Jobson lived in Wollongong.
Ms Turner was surprised Mrs Steel had tried to call her about 4.20am.
‘I just said to him, “I think you need to go”,’ she said of Dr Steele.
‘He seemed frightened. He seemed very concerned to go home and face Emma because they had been fighting all night.
‘I think she told him to f*** off at one stage.’
Ms Jobson was also asked is he had ever had an affair with Dr Steel.
‘Absolutely not,’ she said.
Dr Steel said he had gone downstairs and jumped into the pool because he was in so much pain.
‘When I was being attacked and scratched the whole top half of my body… was burning and so I was looking for something to calm it down and put the fire out, as such,’ he said.
He believed the phone he had in his hands was his and knew it was water-resistant for 30 minutes.
Mrs Steel said red scratch marks across her husband’s body shown in photographs tendered to the court were inflicted as she tried to defend herself.
Dr Steel outside court on Tuesday. He is facing charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault and damaging property
Dr Steel described a troubled marriage and alleged his wife had previously attacked him.
‘She is regularly aggressive,’ he said. ‘Regularly confrontational and regularly demanding.
‘When she is confronted by difficulties her behaviour deteriorates. Certainly verbal abuse is common and verbal denigration is almost constant.’
Mrs Steel has also claimed she was the victim of ongoing financial abuse, which Dr Steel denies.
Mrs Steel told the court on Tuesday her husband gave her $10,000 a month for personal expenses and $10,000 to run their household but sometimes the total sum was up to $24,000.
Dr Steel said the household allowance covered costs including their children’s expenses, after-school activities, clothing and groceries.
Dr Steel is seen leaving Downing Centre District Court during a break in proceedings on Tuesday
It did not go towards bills such as rates, utilities, school fees, holidays, motor vehicle expenses, insurance, takeaway food or restaurant meals.
The court heard in total Mrs Steel received $175,902 in regular payment over seven months last year, which included a top-up of $30,902 to the $2,500-a-month she was given.
Dr Steel’s solicitor Paul McGirr said it was ‘farcical’ under those circumstances for Mrs Steel to claim financial abuse.
‘I was living within our means of a four to six million annual salary,’ she said.
‘I was spending five per cent of our annual income.’
Mrs Steel claims she is in fear of her husband and police have applied for an apprehended violence order against him.
‘I’m petrified because of the ongoing abuse,’ she told police.
Dr Steel is one of Australia’s leading neurosurgeons. His wife alleges he would reduce his payments to her if he was unhappy with her
Mrs Steel said her husband had always controlled her life and the couple’s finances during their 11-year marriage.
‘Throughout my marriage I have been very controlled, not allowed to go out when I would like to go out,’ she said.
‘I’m not allowed to live my life under my rules.
‘It’s always been under Tim’s rules.’
On Tuesday Mr McGirr asked Mrs Steel if Dr Steel had paid her $175,902 between June 1 and December 31 last year.
‘I don’t know the exact amounts,’ she said.
‘My husband Dr Steel earns between four to six million each year.’
Mrs Steel insisted she had been the victim of financial abuse and that her husband reduced her payments if he was unhappy with her.
‘I would send him a text message begging him to put the regular amount which was ($2,500) a week,’ she said.
‘The payments were going in regularly. He was just changing the payments.
‘He would just decrease them if I didn’t do what he said.
‘I was bribed, Mr McGirr. I was bribed. I was a puppet.’
Emma Steel (centre) pictured at a Christmas lunch at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Silver Committee in 2014
Mr McGirr questioned why Mrs Steele could not survive off an allowance of $24,000 a month from her husband.
Mrs Steel said she would have to ask for further funds from her husband such as $2,500 to buy Christmas presents.
‘A lot of the time he would say that’s your budget and you have to live within your means,’ she said.
‘He would use the term advance – he would “advance” me.’
Mr McGirr asked Mrs Steel if her husband had deposited $1.3million into her superannuation account in 2017.
‘I haven’t checked my super account,’ she said.
‘I don’t know what’s in my super account. I could log in and have a look. I don’t know.’
Asked what evidence she had of her husband having an affair Mrs Steel conceded she had never seen them together ‘kissing or being intimate’.
‘I’ve seen text messages between the two of them and I’d heard conversations between them,’ she said.
Mrs Steel denied having told her husband she had hired a private investigator to follow him.
Dr Steel, a senior neurosurgeon at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst, is unable to practise due to the charges against him.
The hearing continues.