Sussex disabled man breaks silence after being imprisoned and kept in 'squalor' by wife for years

  • ITV News Meridian's Rachel Hepworth spoke exclusively to Tom Somerset How

A man from Sussex who was kept in squalor by his wife and carer has been describing how he finally managed to escape and rebuild his life.

Tom Somerset How, has cerebral palsy and needs 24 hour care. During the trial, prosecutors say Tom was treated like a 'cash cow' by his wife Sarah Somerset How, and his live-in carer George Webb, who themselves were having an affair.

On Friday, May 12, the pair were convicted of enslaving him, in the first ever case of its kind.

They cut him off from his family and used his money to fund their lifestyle, which included their own sexual relationship.

Now, he is determined to change the law so it can never happen to anyone else.

Tom Somerset How was found in a room surrounded by clutter. Credit: Sussex Police

Tom said: "It breaks my heart on a completely different level, from human to human level because I've survived, I've made it through but I was lucky, not everyone has the support I had to get out.

"You've got to trust that someone has got your back who works within the system or you might end up with a situation I had, where you get closed off from everybody, and the people outside the system can't get in.

"I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up so that it would finish, because at the time I didn't see a way out. I was literally surviving week by week, day by day."

During Tom's eventual rescue from the house in Chichester, he weighed less than seven stone and his teeth hadn't been cleaned for a year.

Sarah Somerset How married Tom in 2010. Credit: Solent News and Photo Agency

Tom said: "To drain me, not just financially, but just to break me down to nothing, and to leave me behind.

"The fact that between them they were being so blatant when I was in the environment, is just stunning.

"On a human decency level, there should be some consequences emotionally for them to be like - I did this to another human being."

But even Tom had no idea of the extent of their betrayal until text messages between the pair were produced as evidence.

A message from George Webb to Sarah Somerset How read: "Get rid of him. Go find yourself a man. I think you need to leave Tom and get your life back."

George Webb was a live-in carer for Tom and was having an affair with his wife. Credit: Solent News and Photo Agency

A message from Sarah Somerset How to George Webb read: "Remember, we are just using him... he gets paid soon so I will take money out of his account for weed."

Helen Somerset How, Tom's mother, said: "People out there will be thinking - where on earth was the family when all this was going on? But believe me, we were trying very hard.

"They would smarten him up, give him a shower, and a haircut, and when you asked Tom he said 'I'm fine, I'm fine' but Sarah was always there - making sure she was in control."

Tom said: "Because I was constantly under duress and threat, all my communications were monitored. Every phone call I made my wife had to be there."

Tom says any happy memories with Sarah are clouded by what came next. Credit: Tom Somerset How

Only at the family's insistence did the police move in, in an operation compared to extracting a hostage.

He and his family believe more stringent checks should be made on carers, with unannounced spot-checks and greater powers of intervention.

His tormentors remain in custody awaiting sentence in July.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this report, you can access help via the charities listed below:

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