Wife and care worker found guilty of enslaving disabled husband
A wife and a live-in carer have been found guilty of enslaving her disabled husband whilst she was having an affair.
Sarah Somerset-How was seeing George Webb behind her partner’s back, but during the secret relationship Tom Sommerset-How was confined to fifthly conditions where he was being treated “like a piece of property”.
Mrs How, 49 and Webb, 50, were found guilty of holding a vulnerable disabled person in slavery or servitude.
The 40-year-old eventually managed to tell a friend in July 2020 he was being held in a hostage situation which led to his “extraction” from the property.
Paul Cavin KC, prosecuting, told the jury at Portsmouth crown court: “These offences were a deliberate exploitation and effective enslavement of Tom. The defendants treated him like a piece of property instead of a person they should have cared for.”
The prosecution alleged Mr Somerset-How was being treated as a “cash cow” and his money was being “plundered”, but his wife was found not guilty of fraud and theft.
Cavin told the court: “Tom gave an estimate that he spent nearly 90% of the next four years in bed.
“Every few months, he was allowed to see his mother. He went weeks without showering and almost a year without brushing his teeth.
“Every aspect of his life was controlled. The independence he had was taken away from him by the defendants. He became a prisoner in his own home. He was entirely dependent on his abusers to stay alive.”
A selfie of Tom Somerset-How
The jury heard the Somerset-How moved to a bungalow in Chichester, West Sussex, in 2010. Webb joined the couple in 2016 to become a live-in carer for Tom.
Tom Somerset-How gave evidence in court from behind a screen. He said the couple would go away for weekends leaving him confined in bed with nothing but a bottle of squash.
“I would go entire weeks without getting out of bed, except for when I desperately needed the toilet,” he said. “At one point, I went for five weeks in bed.”
In February 2020, Webb texted Sarah Somerset-How: “No food for dickhead. If he has two meals he will just shit it all.”
She replied: “Remember, we are just using him. Dickhead gets paid soon, so I will take money out of his account for weed.”
Cavin said: “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.”
The judge said: “There is ample evidence that Tom was held as if he was a cattle or animal.”
Webb was convicted of ill-treatment by a care worker, he was also found guilty of causing actual bodily harm after he hit Tom Somerset-How with a shoe. Sarah Somerset-How, an executive assistant, was convicted of aiding and abetting her husband.
Following the hearing Tom Somerset-How said: “I am very pleased. Justice has been served.”
[ Sarah Somerset-How and George Webb will be sentenced at a later date ]