Ex-lover feared Roberts-Smith, court told

·3-min read

It is not unusual that Ben Roberts-Smith's former lover wanted to see him after he allegedly punched her in the face given domestic violence victims have complex reactions to their abusers, a judge has been told.

Barrister Nicholas Owens SC said in his closing address for the media outlets being sued that the woman was simultaneously in love and afraid of the Victoria Cross recipient following the alleged attack.

The pair had attended a Parliament House function in March 2018 when the woman became drunk and fell down some stairs.

She gave evidence that she wanted to go to hospital but Mr Roberts-Smith insisted on returning to their hotel room where he allegedly punched her in the face after yelling that she had embarrassed him.

"As to why she wanted to see him in the week following the assault ... she blamed herself ... she said she thought she got what she deserved for being silly," Mr Owens told the Federal Court on Thursday.

It was necessary for Justice Anthony Besanko to avoid stereotypes when assessing how domestic violence victims respond to trauma, he said.

Mr Roberts-Smith's lawyers submit the woman is a liar and fantasist, and have repeatedly pointed out that she is married, independently wealthy and has a prestigious job.

"The fundamental point seems to be that because she is capable of intelligent thought, because she was wealthy, educated and able to make decisions for herself, her conduct in the aftermath of the incident is so inconsistent with an assault having occurred that Your Honour would find it did not occur," Mr Owens said.

"The implicit suggestion seems to be that wealthy educated people would act in a particular way, if they were a victim of assault.

"We respectfully submit that line of argument goes absolutely nowhere."

Mr Roberts-Smith is suing The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times over 2018 reports claiming he committed war crimes in Afghanistan including murder, and acts of bullying and domestic violence.

The 43-year-old denies all claims of wrongdoing, while the mastheads are defending them as true.

Mr Owens also submitted one of the most impressive witnesses called by either side during the trial was savagely bullied and threatened with a "bullet in his head" by the war veteran.

The still-serving SAS soldier dubbed Person One told the court that in 2006 Mr Roberts-Smith hit him in the back of the head multiple times, spat in front of him and regularly slammed doors in his face.

"(He said) words to the effect: 'If your performance doesn't improve in the next patrol you're going to get a bullet in the back of the head'," Person One said in evidence.

"It made me fearful for my own personal safety. It made me lose more confidence. It made my performance worse."

The barrister said Person One openly admitted his failings during his first four weeks of deployment in Afghanistan in 2006.

The incident dredged up from 15 years ago was a source of "enormous embarrassment" to the soldier given his illustrious and distinguished career that followed, including "uniformly glowing appraisals," since he left Mr Roberts-Smith's patrol.

Person One testified that he failed to bring machine gun oil on one mission, which led to "stoppages" of his weapon not firing, and in extreme circumstances admitted this could have led to deaths of his comrades.

Earlier Arthur Moses SC on behalf of Mr Roberts-Smith submitted the media waged a sustained attack on the war hero based on rumour, hearsay and contradictory accounts from jealous and obsessed former colleagues.

Mr Moses said it shattered his reputation and even if vindicated in what was often described as the trial of the century, it would take years for it to fully recover.

The trial continues on Friday.

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