THE DUKE of Beaufort’s son Lord Edward Somerset has been jailed for a series of assaults on his wife over two decades.
Somerset, 55, was sentenced to two years by a judge at Bristol Crown Court today after he admitted four counts of causing actual bodily harm to Lady Caroline.
After the case Det Sgt Simon Brickwood from Avon and Somerset Police public protection unit said: “Domestic abuse affects people of in all walks of lives, regardless of their background or personal circumstances.
“It is very often a hidden crime with victims unable to speak out and friends and loved ones unaware of what is going on behind closed doors.
“In this case, Lord Somerset subjected his wife to a series of violent and aggressive acts which saw her punched and kicked on several occasions, resulting in some permanent injuries.”
He added: “I hope victims of domestic abuse are able to use this successful conviction as a catalyst to report offences to us. Don’t endure a life sentence of suffering – pick up the phone and speak to us.”
The court heard some of the attacks, which included him kicking, punching and dragging her by her hair, happened at the couple’s home on the Badminton estate between 1990 and 2012. A police investigation was launched when she was admitted to hospital in October 2012 with injuries to her ribs.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Rob Allen said: “On account of her loyalty to her husband and family, Lady Caroline suffered in silence for many years. It took a phone call from concerned medical staff at a Bristol hospital following the most recent incident for the abuse to finally be brought to the attention of the police.”
“This case is a reminder that domestic violence permeates all sections of our society. It also highlights the devastating consequences that this type of abuse has on victims and their families,” he said. “Despite record conviction rates more than one woman per week is killed by a current or former male partner.
“Thousands of women and a considerable number of men in our country remain trapped in an abusive relationship. I hope Lady Caroline’s the example of will provide encouragement to those victims to come forward and break the cycle of violence.”
William Clegg, QC, for Somerset, said he accepted his serious wrongdoing but the offences should been seen in the context of the couple’s dysfynctional relationship.
Three similar charges against Somerset dating back to 1988 were left on file and a restraining order banning him from contacting or seeing Lady Caroline was imposed.
Sentencing him Judge Mark Horton said some listening to the case might think it involved two tragedies.
"A tragedy of a man born to privilege and almost limitless opportunities, whose life has been marred and destroyed by addiction to alcohol and class A drugs and an uncontrollable temper.”
But the court was concerned with the tragedy of the repeated violence against his wife of 22 years.
"On many occasions this was fuelled by, or caused by your spiral and descent into various addictions.
"You abused your power over your wife not only physically but more importantly by psychological and emotional damage caused by that physical control."
The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline can be contacted on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk