Luxury hotel owner, 41, treated her husband 'worse than a dog', court hears

Daily Mail Online 3 weeks ago

The owner of a luxury boutique hotel treated her husband 'worse than a dog by punishing and punching him' in a campaign of 'systematic physical and verbal abuse', a court heard.

Clare Weston is alleged to have subjected Simon Weston to the mistreatment just three years into their marriage.

The couple were running posh B&B Shepherd House in Faversham, Kent, at the time. But a jury was told the 41-year-old treated her partner 'like a slave', wearing him down to breaking point.

When he finally reported his wife to police, Mr Weston was 'terribly embarrassed and ashamed' that he was being bullied by a woman, Maidstone Crown Court, heard.

Weston denies engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour between December 2017 and February this year.

The couple were running posh B&B Shepherd House in Faversham, Kent, at the time. But a jury was told the 41-year-old treated her partner 'like a slave', wearing him down to breaking point (pictured)
The couple were running posh B&B Shepherd House in Faversham, Kent, at the time. But a jury was told the 41-year-old treated her partner 'like a slave', wearing him down to breaking point (pictured)

It is alleged she caused her husband, who she wed in 2014, to fear on at least two occasions that he would be subjected to violence.

Her abusive behaviour is said to have included punching him to his head, pushing a mug of tea in his face because he 'used the wrong kettle', and kicking his locked bedroom door until a panel split after he left the fridge door open.

Verbal threats were said to have included Weston telling her husband she would 'break him' and leave him 'f***ed up'.

One of her rants in which she allegedly threatened to break his neck was recorded by Mr Weston on his phone.

Prosecutor Daniel Smith told the court at the start of her trial on Monday: 'Clare Weston treated her husband virtually as a slave and, on occasion, worse than a slave.

'He put up with it until it broke him and he left the marriage.

'Of course, all marriages go through unhappy times and moments, but this wasn't unhappy moments. It was systematic physical and verbal abuse.

'She wore him down.'

Mr Smith said some of the incidents might appear 'pretty trivial' but he was 'continually punished' for them by Weston.

The court heard he could recall the exact date the abuse started - September 17, 2017 - and a total of nine incidents which left him 'walking on eggshells', the jury heard.

The first occurred after a family lunch at their home, a Georgian townhouse in Preston Street which they had converted into a hotel in 2015.

Mr Weston was doing household chores but was allegedly admonished by his wife when he moved her mobile phone out of his way and put in his back pocket.

'She lost her temper over that minor misdemeanour,' said the prosecutor, 'shouting at him and punching him in the face.

'You may think that's pretty extraordinary behaviour for someone against their loved one but that's the flavour of what you will hear about.'

The court heard of several other occasions when Mr Weston was allegedly punched in the face by his wife, and also kneed in the groin after he boiled water for a cup of tea using the 'wrong' kettle.

'It is as ridiculous as that,' said Mr Smith. 'She kneed him in the groin, punched him in the face and kept blocking his path as he tried to get out of the way.

'As he was doing that she pushed the mug as he went to take a sip, knocking it in his face and causing a cut on the bridge of his nose and bruising between the eyebrows.

'It was a deliberate blow designed to hurt him.'

The jury of seven men and five women heard Weston kicked in the bedroom door after her husband locked himself inside so he could have 'a breather' from her.

'She came charging at the door and started kicking it repeatedly saying 'I'm going to break the door down',' continued Mr Smith.

'She kicked it continually until one of the panels split. She was angry at him for yet another trivial misdemeanour - he had left the fridge door open.

'When he opened the door to her there was a scuffle that led to him having a bloodshot eye from another blow from her.'

Another alleged incident occurred when Weston punched her husband to the back of the head before threatening she would 'smash it in' if he did not complete his chores in her absence.

When she returned to the townhouse, the standard of his work did not meet her expectations, said the prosecutor.

'She wasn't satisfied with the job and he had gone into the bedroom to hide.

'She kicked it so hard she broke the lock and shouted 'If you don't get downstairs and clean the kitchen, I'm going to break you'.

'She called him 'a disgusting scumbag' and said 'You are going to spend the rest of your life in the basement'.

'She was treating him worse than you would mistreat a dog.'

Mr Weston finally reported his wife to police after two incidents on February 1 this year - another alleged assault and two abusive rants.

In one, she is accused of yelling at him that he would be in trouble if he did not do as she instructed, telling him she would 'ruin' him.

'By then, Mr Weston had had enough. He described his life as like walking on eggshells,' said Mr Smith.

'He went to Kent Police, terribly embarrassed and ashamed that here was a man complaining of being bullied by a woman.

'But so bad was it, and so bad was the impact on him and the damage she had done psychologically to him, that he had to go to the police.'

Weston was arrested but replied 'no comment' to all questions when interviewed.

At the start of her trial, the jury was told the offence of controlling and coercive behaviour was 'relatively modern', having been introduced by Parliament just four years ago.

'It was designed to fill the gap that the courts found in domestic violence cases where the behaviour fell short of acts of violence but was nevertheless having a devastating impact on the victim, where someone was being undermined continually and gradually worn down until they broke,' said Mr Smith.

'No one should expect to live like that...It crosses a line, crosses a boundary. It becomes criminal behaviour and not just perhaps private, matrimonial affairs.'

The court heard Mr Weston now lives in Scotland and will give evidence today via TV link.

A review by The Telegraph in 2017 described Shepherd House, a former rectory where rooms cost between £145 and £185 a night, as 'like staying with hospitable friends'.

The trial continues.

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