Disabled man kept prisoner in his home breaks silence
A disabled man trapped in his bedroom whilst his wife and carer went away for dirty weekends has gone public about his ordeal.
Tom Somerset-How, who has cerebral palsy, severe vision loss and is in bed for 90% of the time, said it was “absolutely beautiful” after a judge found his partner, Sarah Somerset-How (49) and carer, George Webb (50), guilty at a court hearing.
The fifty-year-old was treated like a “prisoner in his own home” in Chichester, West Sussex, where he was only allowed to shower once a week and not permitted to brush his teeth,
He eventually managed to tell a friend in July 2020 about the “hostage” situation.
Mr Somerset-How told the Daily Mail: "The cherry on top was hearing the Tannoy telling Sarah's lawyers to 'come to the cells'.
"It was so satisfying to get retribution.
"The fact that they're not swanning around thinking they got away with it - they're locked up in a dark cell."
He said when he first met his partner she seemed “really lovely” at first and he was happy that he found someone who would love him “as I am”.
But when his carer, Webb, moved in he quickly quickly "got his feet under the table and that was it".
Seeing them form an intimate relationship right in front of his eyes “broke” Tom, he begged for answers about the painful, emotional, situation which lasted for four years.
He triggered something was going on between the two after hearing sex noises coming from the living room at 2am.
Mr Somerset-How they would go to Webb’s DJ studio for eight hours a day.
The court heard how Webb wanted Tom, who needs 24 hour care, to leave so they could have the house to themselves.
In a series of texts read out in court Webb had told his lover: "Get rid of him. Go find yourself a man. I think you need to leave Tom and get your life back."
Mr Somerset-How now only manages three or four hours sleep a night and has to have the bedside lamps on.
His mum, Helen, is calling for social services to “look very carefully at the warning signs” and believes a system needs to be put in place monitoring private carers.
The couple’s lawyers tried to dismiss charges saying there was no evidence Mr Somerset-How was being treated as a ‘possession’.
Paul Cavin KC, prosecuting, said: "This statute was drafted broadly and for good reason, because in the past they had very narrow definitions.
“The Crown say that both slavery and servitude can be made here.
"It is servitude by coercion by keeping him in a position where he was providing a service. He was allowing them to live off him. By keeping him alive he provided them with a roof over their head.
"It is the use of him and effective imprisonment of him, keeping him away from his family, that allowed them to use his benefits. That is why this applies to both slavery and servitude.
"If there was no benefit to the defendants and they decided to have an affair and keep the partner in a room and he was disabled that would be slavery because it is a complete denial of autonomy.
"If they hadn't enslaved him, he would have dismissed Webb and maybe divorced his wife.
"This is a man who had all his autonomy taken away from him. Total ownership had been taken over him in a way that a master does over a dog when he puts him in the kitchen."
[ Tom Sommerset-How’s sister, Kate, has appeared in Silent Witness and Holby City ]