Gloucestershire

Lord Edward Somerset jailed for beating wife Caroline

Lord Edward Alexander Somerset Image copyright PA
Image caption The court heard Lord Edward Somerset was addicted to drink and drugs

A drink and drug-addicted aristocrat who beat his wife several times over a 22-year period has been jailed.

Lord Edward Somerset, 55, punched, kicked and scratched his wife Caroline during arguments between 1990 and 2012, Bristol Crown Court was told.

He admitted four counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm during a previous court appearance in December.

Judge Mark Horton jailed him for two years and granted his wife a restraining order against him.

The court heard Somerset, who has no previous convictions, had become "enraged" and had assaulted his wife when confronted by her over his addiction to drink and drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

'Two tragedies'

In October 2012, his wife required hospital treatment following an argument with her husband after he took crack cocaine in front of their youngest daughter.

He kicked and punched her and she was taken to Frenchay Hospital, near Bristol, with a bruised eye, nose and ribs. Doctors subsequently reported her injuries to police.

Somerset was interviewed by police and told them: "I shouldn't do it, I know. That is what worries me, I think I could go further one day. It was all so undignified."

The judge said: "This is a case of two tragedies. A tragedy of a man born to privilege and almost limitless opportunities whose life has been marred and destroyed by an addiction to alcohol and drugs and an uncontrollable temper.

"The tragedy with which the court is concerned is the tragedy caused to your wife by you over a period of 22 years by your repeated and deliberate violence.

"You abused your position of power over your wife, not only physically but more importantly by psychological and emotional damage caused by that physical control."

'New girlfriend'

The court heard Somerset's wife had entered rehabilitation three years ago following alcohol abuse and returned to their home on the Badminton Estate at weekends to see her husband, who is the son of the Duke of Beaufort.

But in late 2011, her husband began a relationship with another woman.

Eleanor Laws QC, prosecuting, told the court "an argument flared about the new girlfriend". Somerset kicked his wife "incredibly hard" and she thought she had broken her foot.

In a victim impact statement, Lady Somerset, who had initially not co-operated with the police, said: "I don't know why Edward assaulted me and though he apologised, he never explained.

"I lost my confidence, my self-esteem and believed everything was my fault. I would state I have suffered enormous emotional and psychological damage."

Rob Allen, senior crown prosecutor for CPS South West, said: "This case is a reminder that domestic violence permeates all sections of our society."

The court was told divorce proceedings between the couple, who have two children, were set to be finalised soon.

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