Under-siege war hero Ben Roberts-Smith, 42, and his estranged wife put their sprawling $2million Sunshine Coast mansion up for sale – as legal costs mount for his defence against war crimes allegations
- Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith has listed his mansion for up auction
- Mr Roberts-Smith and wife Emma bought the five-bed home for $1.45m in 2015
- Retired SAS Corporal Roberts-Smith VC is suing over reports of his war service
- Mr Roberts-Smith works for Perth media magnate Kerry Stokes at Chanel Seven
- SAS supporter Mr Stokes helping bankroll Mr Roberts-Smith’s defamation action
- He will also help other SAS members who might be accused of past war crimes
Embattled hero soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has put his sprawling country mansion up for auction as he continues to defend himself against allegations of war crimes.
Mr Roberts-Smith and ex-wife Emma bought the Sunshine Coast hinterland home for a whopping $1.45 million in 2015, but they are understood to have separated in early 2020.
The private-gated property features four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a large outdoor entertaining area, bar, pool and a separate poolhouse.
The sale of the home comes after allegations of war crimes were levelled against Mr Roberts-Smith, leading him to launch costly defamation action against Nine Newspapers.
Mr Roberts-Smith – the head of Channel Seven in Queensland – is being backed in the case by the company’s billionaire owner Kerry Stokes, who has bankrolled him to the tune of $1.9 million.
The VC winner could also face a separate criminal investigation after his defamation case.
The listing of Mr Roberts-Smith’s home – with expectations it could fetch $2 million on auction day – comes just days after the release of a damning inquiry into the behavior of elite Australian troops in the Middle East.
Mr Roberts-Smith has denied any wrongdoing during his time in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Embattled hero soldier Ben Roberts-Smith and wife Emma have put their sprawling Sunshine Coast mansion up for auction (Pictured are the couple in 2011)
Victoria Cross recipient Mr Roberts-Smith and his wife purchased the property for $1.45million in 2015, before making several extensions to the home, including adding a pool and poolhouse
The private-gated estate (pictured) features four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a large outdoor entertaining area, bar, pool and a separate poolhouse
In a statement offered through their agent, the Roberts-Smith’s said a ‘change in lifestyle’ meant ‘the time is right’ to sell up.
There was no mention of their separation earlier this year.
‘We moved to the Sunshine Coast pursuing a work opportunity and discovered a dream lifestyle in an idyllic setting,’ the statement said.
‘Unfortunately due to changes in our employment, lifestyle and our children’s school the time is right for us to move back to Brisbane and to sell.’
Featuring extensive views over the treetops of the hinterlands, local real estate agent Kathryn Willshire said the Victoria Cross winner’s home was an ‘unrivalled residence’.
‘The view is arguably one of the most breathtaking settings I have ever seen,’ the real estate agent told Daily Mail Australia.
Mr Roberts-Smith and his ex-wife extended the home after purchase, adding on the infinity pool and poolhouse.
While it had long been suspected, Mr Stokes last week admitted he was helping to fund the defamation case by Mr Roberts-Smith against Nine Entertainment newspapers over a series of reports on his wartime service.
Mr Roberts-Smith is general manager of Channel Seven in Queensland, which is part of Seven West Media, owned by Mr Stokes.
‘The view is arguably one of the most breathtaking settings I have ever seen,’ real estate agent Kathryn Willshire told Daily Mail Australia
A damning report was released by the Inspector General of the Australian Defence Force last week accusing soliders of brutal war crimes in the Middle East. Mr Roberts-Smith has denied any wrongdoing during his time in Afghanistan or Iraq
Mr Roberts-Smith has provided his VC and other medals as security for a loan provided by Mr Stokes, who will donate them to the Australian War Memorial if he defaults. Mr Stokes is pictured with the VC of WWI soldier Alfred Shout, which he bought and donated to the AWM
Mr Stokes’ private investment company Australian Capital Equity has reportedly extended a $1.9million line of credit to Mr Roberts-Smith.
The former soldier has provided his Victoria Cross and other battlefield decorations including a Medal for Gallantry as security for the loan.
‘The funding of his legal action is a private matter, however he has put his medals up as collateral on a loan and will relinquish them if required,’ Mr Stokes said.
‘If this eventuates, I will donate his medals with Ben’s approval to the Australian War Memorial, as I have done so with other VCs and medals in the past.’
A report by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence released last Thursday found credible information of an alleged 39 unlawful killings by special forces soldiers in Afghanistan, mostly by the SAS.
Mr Roberts-Smith has been linked to some of these alleged killings but denies any wrongdoing.
Justice Paul Brereton recommended 36 matters involving 23 incidents and 19 individuals be referred to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation.
Mr Roberts-Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest honour in the Australian military, in response to bravery he showed during a gunfight in Afghanistan in 2010
Mr Roberts-Smith will give his Victoria Cross and other medals (pictured) to Mr Stokes if he cannot repay a loan. Mr Stokes has spent millions of dollars buying and donating VCs to the Australian War Memorial, of which he is chairman
Mr Stokes was a co-founder of the SAS Resources Fund, set up after the 1996 Black Hawk helicopter collision near Townsville in which 15 SASR members were killed.
A spokesman for Mr Stokes told the Australian Financial the fund might be used to support those SAS soldiers facing potential prosecution for their actions in Afghanistan.
That assistance could include help with legal costs and other ongoing expenses such as for mental health treatment.
‘He supports all SAS soldiers, not just Ben,’ spokesman Tim Allerton told the AFR. ‘It’s the whole SAS community.’
Mr Stokes has also bought and donated to the War Memorial at least seven VCs awarded to Australians, beginning with that of Vietnam hero Kevin ‘Dasher’ Wheatley.
Kevin ‘Dasher’ Wheatley (pictured) was killed in action in 1965, leaving his widow Edna to raise four young children in Housing Commission accommodation. Mr Stokes learnt Mrs Wheatley was being forced to sell her late husband’s VC in 1993 and stepped in