PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Inside house of hell where disabled man was kept in squalor ‘like a dog’ by his wife while she enjoyed affair with his male carer as sick couple are convicted of slavery
- Tom Somerset-How was abused by his wife, Sarah, and her lover, George Webb
These shocking photos show a house from hell where a disabled man was kept in squalor by his wife while she had an affair with his male carer – as the evil couple were convicted of slavery.
Over a 10-year period, Tom Somerset-How, an ‘intelligent’ history graduate with cerebral palsy, was confined to his bed while his wife Sarah and her lover George Webb and treated him ‘like a piece of property’.
The pictures of their filthy home in Chichester, West Sussex were taken by his appalled twin sister, Kate Somerset-Holmes, and shown to the jury during the couple’s trial on multiple charges, including holding a person in slavery.
The images, from 2018, show Mr Somerset-How in bed with a Manchester United shirt on, unshaven, with long hair, and without his glasses. Another photo shows the 40-year-old’s hand hanging off his bed with long, uncut nails.
Mrs Somerset-Holmes, a West End star and TV actress who has appeared in Silent Witness and Holby City, took a photo of his dusty bedside lamp and dirty living room table, which was littered with football mugs, a full ashtray and a grinder.
An image from 2018 shows Tom in bed with a Manchester United shirt on, unshaven, with long hair, and without his glasses
Tom’s sister took a photo of his dusty bedside lamp and dirty living room table, which was littered with football mugs, a full ashtray and a grinder
Another image shows a filthy sideboard, which is covered by a thick layer of dust
More photos were taken when he was rescued in 2020, with Tom lying in bed with no mattress on one side and clothes piled everywhere.
His mother, Helen Somerset How – who was made an MBE for setting up a charity for children with cerebral palsy – took a photo of his unused wheelchair covered with clothes.
After a four-week trial at Portsmouth Crown Court, jurors deliberated for a little more than 12 hours before finding Webb and 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 2018 to 2020.
However, both were cleared of charges pertaining to alleged ill treatment before 2017.
Webb was found guilty of ABH after an incident where he hit Tom 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.
Watching from the public gallery, Tom’s family cheered with each guilty verdict, while he was overcome with emotion. He was joined by his parents, his twin sister Kate, his older brother Ben and a family friend to support him.
There was no reaction from Somerset-How, wearing a leopard print dress, and Webb, who wore an Adidas tracksuit, as the verdicts were delivered – with both slumped in their chairs.
After the verdicts were delivered, Tom said: ‘I am very pleased with the verdict. Justice has been served.
‘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.’
Tom was found ‘disorientated’ and ‘very, very thin’ at 6 stones 10lbs. These images were shown to the jury
Mrs Somerset-Holmes told Portsmouth Crown Court how she ‘ambushed’ the couple in a bid to see her brother, he was unwashed and his living conditions were ‘disgusting’. His weight had plummeted to 6 stones 10lb.
The theatre star, who also played Miss Hannigan in the West End production of Annie, told jurors her brother was ‘disorientated and very, very thin’.
‘The bedroom was disgusting,’ she said. ‘It was dim, and the curtains were drawn. Tom was in bed and appeared confused and disorientated. He wasn’t wearing his glasses.
‘There were clothes and boxes everywhere. There were piles of clothes on Sarah’s side of the bed, and his wheelchair was folded up with things on top of it.
‘I went straight to Tom’s bedside, and I raised him. He smelt terrible, like he hadn’t washed in weeks. I asked him if he had an accident in bed because the smell of urine was so strong. I asked him when he last washed, and he didn’t know.
‘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.
‘I asked Tom if it was okay to take photos, and I did. My parents needed to know the condition he was being kept in. The dust on the bedside lamp was so thick it looked like snow. It was disgusting.’
One photo shows the 40-year-old’s hand hanging off his bed with long, uncut nails
Mrs Somerset-Holmes said that in the run up to her visit, she knocked at the home twice a day for five days, but no one ever came to the door and the curtains would be shut ‘all day’.
Eventually, she parked down the road and walked to the door, which is when Mrs Somerset-How finally answered. But the actress said the woman only opened the door a ‘crack’ and she wasn’t let in.
The actress told jurors: ‘I repeatedly knocked on the door, but it went unanswered. I tried to see in the house, but the curtains were closed.
‘This would be all day, mornings and afternoons. I never saw the blinds open. They knew I was coming to the house, and I would be around all week. I was calling, no reply.
‘I called in advance. I texted Tom a lot, and no reply. On my last day, I decided I would ambush them because I suspected I was being ignored, and I was concerned. I parked down the road and walked to the house, and Sarah opened the door.
Sarah Somerset-How, 49, and her lover George Webb, 50, kept Tom Somerset-How, 40, barely alive at his home in Chichester, West Sussex
Webb showing off his tattoo of the Kray twins, which is on the left side of his neck
‘She opened the door just a crack so I could see her face. This was about 3 pm. I noticed a lot of cigarette smoke, and I was surprised because Tom doesn’t smoke, and I was annoyed they were smoking because I didn’t think it was good for Tom.
‘I asked about it and if I could see Tom. Sarah said he was in bed. I expressed my concern that Tom was in bed in the middle of the day, and this was a pattern. He was always in bed.’
In December 2018, Mrs Somerset-Holmes said she finally got to see her brother, who hadn’t been seen by his family for two years.
She told the court: ‘I was home for a year before going away again, and I visited my parents. I delivered Christmas presents early because I was going away for three months doing shows, and I wasn’t going to see Tom for a long time.
‘I parked down the road and knocked on the door, and George opened it. This was the first time I had ever seen him. I explained I was Tom’s twin sister and I was going away for a few months. My husband and I had driven down together.
‘George was reluctant. I tried very hard to be persuasive and very polite, and he let me in. I was very surprised.
‘My first impression of the house was that it was squalid. Bowls were piled everywhere. It smelled very strongly of cigarette smoke and marijuana. The house was dim, and the curtains were shut.
Tom’s mother, Helen Somerset-How, leaving Portsmouth Crown Court during the trial
West End, Silent Witness and Holby City actress Kate Somerset-Holmes told the court how she was forced to ‘ambush’ the couple at the house to gain access to her twin brother
‘I assumed correctly that Tom would be in bed, so I went there. George went to the lounge to make a phone call.
‘George was on the phone to Sarah, saying there were people in the house, saying ‘you need to get home now’. It didn’t feel safe. The only thing I could do was leave and leave Tom there.
‘I spoke to George, and I was very polite to him. I was worried he would hurt Tom if I told him how disgusting it was. I was worried for Tom’s safety.’
Under the prosecution’s cross-examination of Mrs Somerset-How, Paul Cavin KC asked her about the photos Mrs Somerset-Holmes took of the house.
She said: ‘There was some dust and some washing which hadn’t been put away that day.
‘I would cut Tom’s nails. His nails grew very quickly and it was difficult to cut them because he had spasms.
‘I would try after every shower, Tom would as well. We tried with a nail file. There was always an attempt to cut his nails but Tom would say ‘don’t worry, leave them, we will try again later’.’
The jury was told that eventually, two years later, 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.
Tom with his mother, Helen Somerset-How – who was made an MBE for setting up a charity for children with cerebral palsy – and sister, Holby City actress Kate Somerset-Holmes
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