Disabled man's wife & male carer convicted of slavery after Holby City star sister found him in ‘squalid’ home | The Sun

A "DECEITFUL and adulterous" wife and the carer of her disabled husband were today convicted of enslaving him – after the victim's Holby City star sister raised the alert.

Sarah Somerset-How and lover George Webb imprisoned her spouse Tom, barely keeping him alive while treating him "like a dog" and "like a piece of property".

They have now both been found guilty of holding a person in slavery of servitude, after a four-week trial at Portsmouth crown court – the first ever case of its kind.

Jurors had heard from Mr Somerset-How's actress twin sister Kate Somerset-Holmes how she had to "ambush" the carer to gain access to her brother, who she found in 'squalid' conditions.

Mrs Somerset-Holmes, who played Miss Hannigan in the West End production of Annie and has appeared in Silent Witness and Holby City, told jurors her brother was "disorientated and very, very thin".

The court heard his weight had plummeted to 6st 10lbs and he was found unwashed in "disgusting" living conditions.

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Giving evidence, Mrs Somerset-Holmes said: "Tom smelt terrible, like he hadn't been washed in weeks.

"Tom was very, very thin. His nails were long, and his hair was greasy. He hadn't been shaved in weeks. I asked if he was okay, but he obviously wasn't.

"In hindsight, that was a silly question. It was disgusting."

Prosecutors said Mrs Somerset-How, 49, and Webb, 50, treated the 40-year-old – who suffers from cerebral palsy and needs 24-hour care – as a "cash cow", spending his inheritance and buying themselves lingerie and DJ equipment.

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Mr Somerset-How, an intelligent history graduate from a wealthy family, was kept in bed for 90 per cent of the time – only allowed to shower once a week and left with just crisps and a sandwich for food, it was heard.

Jurors deliberated for a little more than 12 hours before finding Webb, 50, and 49-year-old Somerset-How guilty of holding a person in slavery or servitude.

Webb was also convicted of ill-treatment by a care worker while Somerset-How, an executive assistant who has worked for accountancy firm KPMG and lawyers Irwin Mitchell, has been convicted of aiding and abetting him from 2017 to 2020.

However, both were cleared of charges relating to alleged ill treatment before 2017.

Webb was also found guilty of ABH against Mr Somerset-How after hitting him with a shoe.

Somerset-How was found not guilty of fraud and theft over allegations she had "plundered" £12,000 of her husband's inheritance.

According to prosecutors, the Somerset-How slavery case is the first of its kind, as the charge usually applies to victims who have been trafficked from abroad or forced to work for no pay.

Prosecutors argued that by cutting him off from his family and by using his financial resources, the neglect was so bad Mr Somerset-How was in effect being treated like a slave at his home in Chichester, West Sussex.

Rejecting a defence application to dismiss the slavery charge halfway through the trial, Judge William Ashworth ruled: "There is ample evidence that Tom was held as if he was a cattle or animal."

The court heard Mr Somerset-How met his wife in 2008 through Gina Zeelie, a friend who worked with her.

At this time, he was living in sheltered accommodation and recovering from surgery.

They moved into a purpose-built bungalow in Chichester in 2010 and had 24-hour care paid for by social services during the week, with his wife providing weekend cover.

Webb, working for healthcare agency NursePlus, arrived in 2016 to help care for him, with the three of them living in the same house.

This then transitioned into private care, paid for by Mr Somerset-How at a rate of £4,000 a month – but the ill-treatment worsened over the following four months.


Somerset-How admitted to the court she became "intimate" with Webb in 2016 for a relationship lasting six months, before starting up again briefly in 2019.

Webb admitted the affair but said the married couple told him together their "relationship was over" and had been since 2013 – only a year after they married.

Prosecutor Paul Cavin told jurors the two defendants took "total control over his life, just as you would with a dog".

Mr Cavin said of Mr Somerset-How: "He was increasingly ostracised. He was not just neglected. He was not just abused. He was treated like a piece of property.

"They sought to isolate him from friends and family.

"He was not allowed to call people without one of them being present. He was their cash cow.

"Every aspect of his life was controlled. His remaining independence he had was taken away from him by the defendants.

"He couldn't dismiss his carer who was abusing him, and his wife wouldn't intervene or help him because she was having an affair.

"He became a prisoner in his own home. He was entirely dependent on his abusers to stay alive."

In texts read out to the court, Webb texted: "Get rid of him. Go find yourself a man. I think you need to leave Tom and get your life back."

And Somerset-How messaged Webb about taking money from her husband's account, remarking: "Remember, we are just using him."

Former colleagues of Mrs Somerset-How from Oxfordshire-based non-profit agricultural company CABI told the court she went with Webb to watch Manchester United football games and Take That concerts – and left her husband behind.

The jury also heard Somerset-How bought a Michael Kors handbag using her husband's money.

Giving evidence, Mr Somerset-How told the court: "They would go away together on weekends, and I would be left alone with a bottle of squash for up to 12 hours.

"I would have a urine bottle which wouldn't be emptied until Sarah got home.

"There were multiple times when I just couldn't hold it. There were days when I had to stay there in it until Sarah came home to sort me out."


Mr Somerset-How's mother Helen, who was awarded an MBE for charity work, told the court she visited her son and was also horrified to find him living in "squalor".

Describing her son after he was 'rescued' from his home, she said: "He had a beard. His nails were dreadful. His teeth were unclean, they had stuff all over them, and he smelt terrible."

The jury was told that eventually, Mr Somerset-How managed to raise the alarm about how he was being treated with a friend who alerted his parents.

They then staged a rescue with police and social services, "an operation that had the marks of extracting someone as a hostage", the court heard.

Admitting he had an affair with his client's wife, Webb told the court: "I know it wasn't appropriate. We all make mistakes. It is one of my biggest mistakes ever."

Somerset-How also admitted the affair and said Webb was her 'rock' and they had grown 'closer than we should have'.

But she denied a long-running relationship, saying the affair that began shortly after they first met fizzled out before rekindling briefly three years later.

When asked about text messages between her and Webb about her underwear, she told the court: "Just because I had a thong it doesn't mean I was having sex."

The pair will be sentenced at a later date.

The guilty verdicts were greeted with cheers in court by Mr Somerset-How's family, and he appeared overcome by emotion.

He was joined by his parents John and Helen, his twin sister Kate, his older brother Ben and a family friend.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Somerset-How said: "I am very pleased with the verdict. Justice has been served.

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"I would like to thank my lawyers, witness care, CPS, and the police officers who have been particularly diligent in preparing all the evidence to bring this case to light.

"I would also like to thank my family for their ongoing support through this very difficult period."

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