High life

My drug-addict friend needs medical help, not a prison sentence

We all know unfortunates who succumbed to weakness and can only focus on their next fix. Eddie Somerset was one of them

22 February 2014

9:00 AM

22 February 2014

9:00 AM

 Gstaad

‘On ne touche pas une femme, même avec une fleur,’ says an old French dictum, one not always adhered to in the land of cheese, or anywhere else, for that matter. However hackneyed it may sound — don’t you hate it when a hack declares an interest in order to gain brownie points for honesty? — I nevertheless will declare one. I’ve been a friend of the Somerset family for about 50 years, starting with the father, David Beaufort, whom I met sailing around the Med back in 1963. He was then David Somerset and is now the Duke of Beaufort, and his four children are all close friends of mine. His second son, Edward Somerset, was recently jailed for two years for mentally and physically abusing his wife of 30 years.

Now after having gone bonkers over Saatchi grabbing his wife by the throat, it might sound a bit hypocritical defending Eddie Somerset, so hear me out first and then make your decision. Eddie and Caroline Somerset were a very nice couple with two daughters, who shared a life of pleasure, booze and drugs, I’m afraid. Throughout the marriage, I never got the impression that he was the Pope and she the postulant, rather that they were a troubled pair who drank and drugged a lot. I was actually closer to Caroline than Eddie, who was too tortured and strung out for my taste. Neither of them, however, exactly tiptoed through life as though through a minefield. Both knew what they were doing, and in Caroline’s case she had 30 years to get out and she didn’t.


It takes a heretical kind of cavorting to choose drugs as a lifestyle, one that’s worthy of a longer study than this brief column, but Eddie Somerset is not the first of a privileged background and of beautiful mien — no longer — to go wrong. His wife, obviously in love with him, was also into the stuff of dreams, and I will get to my point in a minute. Eddie Somerset succumbed to an old, old force, the power of weakness. We’ve all known unfortunates who have allowed drugs to get the better of them. They all sound hollow, as if in an echo chamber, because inside their brain all they can focus on is the next fix. Internally complicated Brits, plus drugs, make for an awful mess. But the last thing he deserved was jail, and a very cruel custodial sentence to boot.

Which brings me to the point of my story. This was a lulu of a travesty of justice. The judge, Mark Horton, lectured Somerset on his life of privilege and ease and then sent him down for two years. This is the same judge who spared a drug-dealer caught with two kilos of hallucinogenic drugs a spell in prison because the dealer wanted to change sex and did not feel comfortable in an all-male prison. Ironically, the same week, another judge sent a man who plotted to kill Prince Harry down for three years. In other words, punishments for trying to kill the fourth in line to the throne and giving two black eyes to your wife are a year apart where justice is concerned. More importantly, Edward Somerset, when interviewed by the fuzz after Caroline had filed a complaint, did so without a lawyer, despite the fact the cops offered him one. He admitted everything, like an innocent man would.

So I ask you, dear readers. Violence fuelled by heroin and alcohol, and a judge who threw the book at someone who is as big a threat to society as I am to a transsexual hooker. So much for the fairness of the British justice system. Eddie was given consecutive rather than concurrent sentences for the four times he hit his wife. That he answered truthfully without a lawyer present was apparently not considered important enough to spare him jail, nor was his otherwise totally non-violent character. Eddie needs a medical facility, not a jail. Being born to privilege is no excuse, but neither is it a sin.

Love, as we all know, can be the sweetest rose but, as someone wise said, with the sharpest of thorns. And as Theodore Dalrymple wrote, ‘Comfort and a respectable career path are tame and boring, at least for those who seek excitement and strong sensation.’ (Talking about his young self.) Eddie Somerset searched for excitement and adrenalin boosts in drugs and booze. He is to be pitied and helped, not sent to prison. Here we are, threatened by Muslim extremists in our midst, with the EU dictating who can be deported or not, and a buffoon of a judge throws the book at someone who obviously is no threat to anyone but himself, and who regrets what he did to the extent that he volunteered the info to the fuzz. We might as well go and live in Turkey, where the judges are bad but at least the climate is better.

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  • ghostoflectricity

    For once I agree with Mr. T. Nonviolent drug “offenders” shouldn’t be offenders at all and shouldn’t be jailed; they should be offered treatment. They should even be allowed to use drugs WITHOUT treatment if they wish, so long as they commit no other crimes, such as driving while impaired, violent crimes, stealing, etc. The drug laws are idiotic. But people who commit violent crimes, that is a different matter.

    • Doggie Roussel

      “Non-violent”… this geezer kicked the s…t out of his wife, for whatever reasons, so you can hardly describe him as non-violent…. there may be many women who deserve to have their backsides kicked every once in a while, but whatever the urge to apply a smack on the chops, most sensible and rational geezers will simply seek to find a more amenable and attractive playmate… while making sure that the family jewels are safely out of reach.

      • ghostoflectricity

        Yes, he should be prosecuted for violent crimes; he needs to be responsible for his actions just like anyone else. But not for drug possession or use. I thought I made that clear in the previous post.

        • ghostoflectricity

          I specifically said “so long as they commit no other crimes” meaning ones that harm or have the potential to harm others. Otherwise, let him use drugs to his heart’s content. For beating his wife, he should face a long stretch.

          • Doggie Roussel

            Calm down, dear !

      • La Fold

        A good slap in the boat and a bout of cold turkey would probably do the fella a lot more good. Only thing with sending him to the jug is that he’ll probably spend all day in his peter skinning up and chasing anyway. The only thing is the persians cost more in the jail.

        • Doggie Roussel

          La Fold, I like your Cockney Rhyming, but could you please explain the origins of peter and Persians.

          • La Fold

            Peter pan = can, can is a cell.
            Persian rugs = drugs.

          • Doggie Roussel

            Thanks, Buddy… so Taki spent some time in his Peter in Pentonville for trafficking Persians… gotcha !

          • La Fold

            Yes. Or another way you could say it was Taki the bubble got 3 months in the Ville for getting collared with Boutros in his sky rocket,

    • Smithersjones2013

      They should even be allowed to use drugs WITHOUT treatment

      Fine and they should register as drug addicts (which should be publicised on the web so caring parents can keep their kids away from them) and be excluded all treatment by the NHS and forced to take out medical insurance for their addiction. Why should the rest of us pay for junkies?

      • ghostoflectricity

        Sure, and why should I pay for idiots who drive like maniacs and end up with head and spinal cord injuries, or smokers who end up with lung CA and/or emphysema, or obese people who end up with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. In a society with national health insurance, we all assume collective risks for the not-always-wise behavioral choices of everybody else. It (mostly) works because we all either make dumb choices at some point in our lives or else end up with injuries or illnesses for which the collective bares some of the cost of treatment. Do I wish people wouldn’t use hard drugs? Do I wish everyone obeyed traffic laws, ate and exercised properly, didn’t smoke, and didn’t abuse their spouses and other loved one? Sure. I also wish my behavior was perfect all the time (I’m a thin vegetarian who exercises daily, doesn’t drink, smoke, or use ‘recreational’ drugs, but I have been known to drive too fast and to jaywalk on busy streets). I wish we all lived in the Garden of Eden. Until we do, we all assume risks in a modern civilized society, we’re all imperfect, and we each bear (a little) of the burden of each other’s imperfections. My basic point here is that the past century of drug laws and the criminal model for drug users have been detrimental to our society as a whole.

        • Doggie Roussel

          God, you sound a boring git…

  • Kennybhoy

    Jesus wept but you are a wretch Theodoracopulos…

  • Phillip Bain

    This article shows a massive misunderstanding of how the law works, and disjointed logic. What does needed help with drugs have to do with a person taking it upon themselves to beat up your wife. This man is a disgrace to all men.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Which probably explains why he is hiding his identity behind that “tacky” pseudonym

  • Smithersjones2013

    I’m not going to even belittle myself by attempting to debate this purile piece of drivel. The simple fact is drugs and alcohol or no he was clearly out of control and as such could have killed his wife. He should be grateful he only got two years.

    That said in the spirit of compromise why not detain drug fuelled batterers in Broadmoor rather than Dartmoor? As long as they are held in secure conditions where their behaviour can be fully controlled and their addiction can certainly broken then it doesn’t matter whether the location has a medical slant!

    • Doggie Roussel

      I think the word that you were looking for was puerile.

  • saffrin

    I should imagine a junky going cold turkey would spill all she knew on who was dealing what in return for medication.

  • Julie Burchill Raven

    Though I don’t generally rate his writing, I WOULD be interested to read Cosmo Landesman’s views on the pros and cons of wife-beating in polite society.

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