File picture: Alex Ramos/Pixabay

London - The former owner of a luxury B&B who was accused of treating her husband ‘like a slave’ has been cleared of controlling behaviour.

Clare Weston, 41, allegedly subjected Simon Weston, 43 – who was also her business partner – to ‘systematic physical and verbal abuse’.

She was accused of once hurling a mug of tea in his face after he ‘used the wrong kettle’.

The couple were running the jointly-owned, highly-rated B&B Shepherd House in Faversham, Kent, when problems emerged as they went through an acrimonious divorce. Jurors at Maidstone Crown Court were told Mrs Weston treated her husband ‘worse than a dog’ during a campaign of coercive behaviour between September 2017 and February this year.

But they cleared her after just one hour of deliberation.

Chartered surveyor Mr Weston was said to be ‘terribly embarrassed and ashamed’ that he was being bullied by a woman when he reported his wife to police in February. He also alleged his wife attacked him and said she would ‘break him’ and leave him ‘f***ed up’.

Secret recordings by Mr Weston of some of her rants were played in court and he also took photographs of alleged injuries including bruising and a bloodshot eye.

His wife, a former business development manager with no previous convictions or cautions, denied attacking her husband, whom she met online in 2012.

She admitted saying ‘unpleasant’ things in anger, which she regretted, but said any threats made were ‘empty’ ones. As Mr Weston, who now lives in Scotland, gave evidence via videolink from a court in Edinburgh, he was forced to deny portraying his wife as ‘a monster’.

He told the jury he initially ‘didn’t comprehend how bad it was’ until January when ‘someone pointed out they were really worried about me and concerned for my welfare’.

He denied he hoped to prevent the couple’s assets being shared equally by the divorce court. The couple are still legally married.

Mrs Weston was arrested in February on suspicion of assault, criminal damage and false imprisonment. Jurors were told another alleged incident occurred when she said she would ‘smash’ her husband’s head. She also told him: ‘You are going to spend the rest of your life in the basement’.

The couple bought Shepherd House for £890 000 in 2013 and opened to paying guests in September 2015 after renovations. They put it on the market for £1.425 million this year. Guests described it as ‘classy’ and ‘chic’ and rooms cost between £145 and £185 a night.

The court heard as much as £500 000 from the proceeds from the sale now sits in a solicitor’s account waiting to be divided.

Daily Mail