A disabled man who was allegedly “enslaved” by his wife and caretaker when they used him as a “cash cow” confronted them after hearing noises at night and suspected they were having sex, a court heard today.
Tom Somerset-How, 40, who has cerebral palsy, told Portsmouth Crown Court he heard ‘noises’ and texted his wife Sarah Somerset-How, 49, and carer George Webb, 50, to ask ‘what’s going on used to be’.
But Mr. Somerset-How received a reply from Mr. Webb telling him to ‘go back to sleep’ and they were ‘just talking’ about his concern.
He also said the pair would “go away together at the weekend” and leave him alone with a “bottle of squash” until 12pm.
Prosecutors allege that Mrs Somerset-How and Mr Webb enslaved Mr Somerset-How – who is nearly blind and in need of 24-hour care – and treated him like a ‘cash-cow’, spending £12,000 and buying himself lingerie and buy dj equipment.
Tom Somerset-How (pictured), 40, who has cerebral palsy, said he heard ‘noises’ and texted his wife Sarah Somerset-How, 49, to ask ‘what was going on’
Sarah Somerset-How (pictured), 49, is on trial for allegedly assaulting her disabled husband Tom Somerset-How, 40
While buying luxury items with cash received from relatives, the 40-year-old, a “bright” history graduate, was left a “prisoner in his own house” and treated “like a piece of property”, a Portsmouth Crown Court jury was told.
The court heard that Mr Somerset-How met his wife in 2008 through one of her work friends while he was living in sheltered accommodation and recovering from surgery.
They moved into a purpose-built bungalow in Chichester, West Sussex in 2010 and received 24-hour care during the week, paid for by Social Services.
Mr Webb then arrived as caretaker to Mr Somerset-How in 2016, with all three of them living in the house, before this became a private care service for £4,000 a month.
The pair allegedly left wheelchair-bound Mr Somerset-How – who requires 24-hour care – in bed 90 per cent of the time, showering him once a week and not brushing his teeth for a year .
For food he would only have a packet of crisps and a sandwich, the court was told, as the couple carried out their plan to ‘banish’ him from his family.
Prosecutors allege Mrs Somerset-How and Mr Webb (pictured) enslaved Mr Somerset-How – who is nearly blind and in need of 24-hour care – and treated him like a ‘cash-cow’, spending £12,000 and buy herself lingerie and DJ equipment
Mr Somerset-How said Webb was a ‘really good caretaker’ at first and there were ‘absolutely no problems’, but things deteriorated rapidly within a year.
Over time, small changes meant that Mr Somerset-How felt it became ‘more difficult to ask for help’ for things like going to the toilet.
He said, “When I asked for help, he did it very quickly, like it was a chore.”
When prosecutor Paul Cavin KC asked him why he didn’t file a complaint with Webb’s agency, he said “after that I would be beset with abuse.”
He continued, “I went whole weeks without getting out of bed, except when I had an urgent need to go to the bathroom. At one point I was in bed for five weeks.
“I should text Sarah when she was at work to ask if she could help me to the bathroom when she got home. I would have a urine bottle that wouldn’t be emptied until Sarah got home.
“There were several times when I just couldn’t keep it up. There were days when I had to stay in it until Sarah came home to sort me out.
“I told Sarah this wasn’t acceptable, but she just shrugged. Sarah said George had the two of us over a ton. She did not elaborate.
“They closed the curtains to prevent people from seeing inside. They would be closed all day. I felt like it wasn’t my home anymore.’
Mr Somerset-How (pictured) said Webb was a ‘really good caretaker’ at first and there were ‘absolutely no problems’, but things quickly deteriorated within a year
Mr Somerset-How also told the jury about when he stopped receiving home visits.
He said: ‘At one point my mother dropped by unexpectedly to drop off a duvet.
“Webb completely lost it. He yelled at her. From what I heard, it sounded like he was standing in her face and yelling at her for five minutes.
“After she left, he came right in and said, ‘Nobody’s ever coming by again. Not even for a cup of tea.'”
During this time, Mr. Somerset-How claims Webb threw a shoe at him in anger.
He told the jury, “George got really angry. I didn’t see what he threw because I closed my eyes, but it felt like a shoe.
“Sarah was there in the room and just got me a cold, wet tea towel to hold against my face. I still have a little dent where it hit me.”
On another occasion, he claimed Webb dragged him into the shower and sprayed water on him until he gasped.
Mr Somerset-How also claimed that Mr Webb (pictured, right) furiously threw a shoe at him, leaving a ‘notch’ where it hit it
He said, “I had an intestinal accident and needed a shower. George said it was horrible and “you’re disgusting” and that he wasn’t getting paid enough for this.
“I don’t know what I said to him, but he held the shower over my face. I struggled and gasped.
“Sarah said he had already apologized and explained. I told her he had breached his contract several times. She said we had no choice, there was nothing we could do.’
When Mr Cavin KC questioned Mr Somerset – what about the money he claimed the duo stole from him, he said he approved of using the money for food and agreed to a loan they ‘needed’ .
He said, “I was told that – as a household – we needed the loan to pay off the credit card debt. I said yes because I was told we would be in serious trouble otherwise. I thought the amount was much lower.’
The couple denies all allegations. The four-week trial period continues.
Mr Somerset-How claimed Mr Webb once dragged him into the shower and sprayed water on him until he gasped