The estranged socialite wife of a world-renowned neurosurgeon has placed a legal claim over residential and commercial properties he owns worth more than $23million.
Emma Steel, 41, who wrongly accused Timothy Steel of assault in an explosive court case earlier this month, reportedly placed caveats, effectively blocking the sale of any of his property empire, in March.
The onetime model’s actions mean Dr Steel cannot any sell without notifying his ex wife – including the family’s lavish eastern suburbs mansion.
That five-bedroom house in Holland Road, Bellevue Hill, was bought by Dr Steel for $6.53million in May 2010 and is now likely to be worth at least $8million.
Mrs Steel has also put caveats on a house in Edward Street, Woollahra bought for $3.3million in 2002 and a Trelawney Street apartment in the same suburb bought for $1.4million in 2009.
The Australian newspaper, which first reported the move by Mrs Steel, stated she claimed a ‘direct and indirect financial contributions towards the property.’
She also claimed a beneficial interest due to ‘homemaker duties that were undertaken during the relationship which spanned over 15 years.’
Caveats cover the KFC at Engadine, in Sydney’s south, bought for $4.05million in 2014, a Wylde Street, Potts Point, apartment ($2.75million in 2015) and a Darling One apartment at Darling Harbour ($3.5million in 2018).
A Balmain apartment which cost $1.8million in 2017 and a share in the family farm at Wingen in the Upper Hunter Valley put the value of Dr Steel’s properties at more than $23million.
Avondale Lawyers, which lodged the caveats on Mrs Steel’s behalf, told Daily Mail Australia they did not have instructions to comment on the matter.
Dr Steel, 56, returned to work on July 16, two weeks after a magistrate cleared him of attacking 41-year-old Mrs Steel.
The former model had claimed Dr Steel kicked, slapped and punched her inside their home the morning after a Christmas party last year.
In addition to domestic violence claims, Mrs Steel accused her husband of financial abuse, despite Downing Centre Local Court hearing she had a monthly allowance of some $24,000.
Experienced magistrate Vivien Swann found Mrs Steel to be an ‘inconsistent witness’ and dismissed all charges against the father of her two children.
That decision led Dr Steel to be reinstated by the Medical Council of NSW – which had suspended him until the case was resolved.
Dr Steel’s solicitor, Paul McGirr, described Mrs Steel as a witness of ‘very little credit’ and an ‘unhinged person’ who made up allegations against her husband.
‘I relation to her, she will make up anything to suit herself,’ Mr McGirr told the court.
‘The catalyst for all this is money. She was treating Dr Steel like a walking ATM.’
Dr Steel told the court it was his wife who had assaulted him and strongly denied Mrs Steel’s claims of financial abuse.
He said a $10,000 monthly household allowance paid to his wife covered costs including their children’s expenses, after-school activities, clothing and groceries.
It did not go towards bills such as rates, utilities, school fees, holidays, motor vehicle expenses, insurance, takeaway food or restaurant meals.
On top of that Mrs Steel received $10,000 in personal expenses, plus $4,000 for a nanny.
The court heard Mrs Steel received $175,902 in regular payment over seven months last year.
Mr 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.’
On the eve of Dr Steel’s return to performing surgery Mr McGirr told Daily Mail Australia his client ‘couldn’t wait to get back to work’.
‘The fact that the medical council immediately lifted his suspension after all charges and AVOs were dismissed at court after an overwhelmingly strong case is pretty indicative of the fact that Dr Steel did absolutely nothing wrong,’ Mr McGirr said.
‘Dr Steel can’t wait to get back to work and put this sorry saga behind him.
‘His wife tried to manipulate the system by ruining his career, but the court and medical council were not fooled.’
Dr Steel was suspended by the medical council on February 11, but he appealed its decision before the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
While NCAT found the medical council was legally entitled to suspend him, within days of the NSW Local Court hearing ending the council ended its suspension.
‘Fortunately the medical council have had access to all the evidence where Dr Steel was found to have lawfully acted in self defence after he was awoken and attacked by his wife, who was not a witness of credit,’ Mr McGirr said.
‘Therefore what NCAT found – bearing in mind they did not have all the evidence – is null and void because NCAT was only determining the issue of whether or not he should have been suspended.
‘All other findings in respect to the incident were purely speculative and most were proven to in fact be falsehoods invented by his wife.’
Ms Swain found there were inconsistencies in Mrs Steel’s evidence and dismissed charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault and damaging property against Dr Steel.
Mrs Steel’s 19-year-old son from an earlier marriage to jockey Shane Dye had given evidence against her, describing his step-mother’s obsession with money.
Jack Dye said his mother regularly complained Dr Steel did not give her enough funds, despite the monthly $24,000 personal and household expenses she was paid.
‘Dr Steel was the victim of her vicious attacks,’ Mr McGirr told the court.
‘Poor old Dr Steel is the one getting his reputation sullied. Emma Steel is a woman who is playing the system and playing the victim.’