LORD Edward Somerset has been jailed for two years at Bristol Crown Court today for carrying out a series of assaults on his wife over a 22-year period.
The son of the Duke of Beaufort, Somerset, aged 55, of Essex House, Badminton, admitted four counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm at a previous court hearing in December.
The assaults date from between 1990 and 2012.
A police investigation began in October 2012, when Somerset’s wife Lady Caroline suffered injuries to her ribs and was admitted to hospital.
Lady Caroline later disclosed to officers she had been the victim of domestic violence on previous occasions during her marriage.
Investigating officer Det Sgt Simon Brickwood, of the Public Protection Unit (PPU), 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.
“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.
“If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to police there are many charities and organisations out there you can confide in, such as the National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline.
“We are committed to supporting and safeguarding all victims of domestic abuse and our message to victims is that we will listen to you, no matter how trivial you think the incident is.
“If you suspect a relative, friend or colleague may be suffering domestic abuse then please report this to us, as the situation can escalate very rapidly.”
CPS 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. Despite record conviction rates more than one woman per week is killed by a current or former male partner. The Crown Prosecution Service is firmly committed to the task of bringing more abusers to justice and increasing the safety of victims.
“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.
“This case illustrates that it doesn’t matter who you are or how long ago the offences took place, the CPS will always seek to prosecute where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.”
In an emergency situation please call 999, or if you have information to report to us, please call the non-emergency number 101.
The 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline can be contacted on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk