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Chilling moment husband confessed to her friend in a pub that he'd strangled her

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Chilling moment husband, 64, who faked his 66-year-old wife's suicide confessed to her friend in a pub that he'd strangled her - as he's jailed for life for murder

  • Derek Potter killed his wife of 26 years because she had been 'doing his head in'
  • The 64-year-old strangled wife Lesley, 66, then set up noose in spare bedroom
  • Her death was not treated as suspicious until he confessed to woman in the pub 

By Amie Gordon For Mailonline

Published: 10:35 EST, 8 November 2018 | Updated: 11:22 EST, 8 November 2018

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Derek Potter has been jailed for 17 years
Derek Potter has been jailed for 17 years

Derek Potter has been jailed for 17 years

A man who killed his wife and attempted to pass her death off as a suicide was caught out when he confessed his horrific crime to a woman in the pub.  

Derek Potter, 64, murdered his wife of 26 years because she had been 'doing his head in' before setting up a noose in a spare bedroom and pretending he had found her hanged. 

After killing 66-year-old Lesley he dialled 999 and told ambulance and police crews he had tried to save her after returning from an errand in the village.

Potter told them he had cut her down, and he nearly got away with it after police bungled the investigation, the court heard.

The death was not originally treated as suspicious and Mrs Potter's body was prepared for a funeral.

But on April 25 Potter told his colleague Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia that his wife had been 'doing his head in' and he had strangled her. 

She went to police and on April 28 - less than two weeks before the planned funeral - Mrs Potter's body was taken from a chapel of rest back to hospital for a detailed post-mortem.

It revealed she had suffered 30 rib fractures as well as internal bruising in her stomach and inside her neck, in addition to more than 30 bruises over her neck, face, arms, back, legs and feet.

Jailing Potter for life, Judge Mr Justice Soole told him he would serve at least 17 years for the 'ferocious attack', saying he was sure that in the moment he strangled his wife he intended to kill her.  

He would have got away with killing wife Lesley, 66, but only days before his wife's body was due to be cremated Potter told a woman in a pub that he was responsible. He is pictured here being interviewed by police after his wife had died 
He would have got away with killing wife Lesley, 66, but only days before his wife's body was due to be cremated Potter told a woman in a pub that he was responsible. He is pictured here being interviewed by police after his wife had died 

He would have got away with killing wife Lesley, 66, but only days before his wife's body was due to be cremated Potter told a woman in a pub that he was responsible. He is pictured here being interviewed by police after his wife had died 

Potter’s murder trial heard he had confessed on April 25 to colleague Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia (pictured here together in the pub), that he had strangled his wife
Potter’s murder trial heard he had confessed on April 25 to colleague Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia (pictured here together in the pub), that he had strangled his wife

Potter's murder trial heard he had confessed on April 25 to colleague Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia (pictured here together in the pub), that he had strangled his wife

Police 'made mistakes' as victim's death was dismissed as suicide

South Wales Police made 'mistakes' in the initial investigation into Lesley Potter's death, meaning her husband nearly got away with murder, the court heard.

Officers treated Mrs Potter's death as suicide after accepting her husband Derek's lies.

Paul Hobson, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court during Potter's sentencing hearing for murder that the police response on the day of Mrs Potter's death 'was not as it should have been' and the force was 'looking at this very seriously'.  

Mr Hobson told Mr Justice Soole: 'It is plain, on the day of Lesley Potter's death the police response was not as it should have been and mistakes were made, either of common sense or procedure or of both.

'We know scenes of crimes (officers) attended and took photographs but there was no wider inquiry than that. There was no action by CID and the force medical examiner.

'What happened in this case is something they have been looking at very seriously with a view to making improvements in regard to sudden deaths.

'Lesley Potter's family were told one thing, then another thing some time later. No family should have to deal with that.'

In a statement, South Wales Police said: 'Now that the criminal proceedings are concluded we will consider the comments made and review the initial police response to this tragic death.'

A Home Office pathologist concluded 'manual strangulation' had played a part in her death.

Potter denied murder and claimed his wife killed herself or could have died while choking herself for sexual pleasure.

He also tried blaming his son-in-law and Miss Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia.

Jurors heard Potter claim he was involved in a three-way sado-masochistic relationship with his wife and a lodger called Paul, which involved role-playing, ropes and erotic asphyxiation.

Potter told the jury he had strangled his wife 15 times, both during sex and while angry - almost killing her once.

He also said he believed he had 'some sort of power' in his hands.

Carpenter and ex-cafe boss Potter denied murdering his wife at their home in Hill Street, Mumbles, on April 7 this year but was found guilty following a trial at Swansea Crown Court. 

A jury took one hour and seven minutes to unanimously convict Potter of murder. 

Mark Wyeth QC, defending, apologised to Mrs Potter's family for the 'distress' caused by the defendant's actions.

'It is a side to him that is some type of benign fantastist, and he has a tendency to say things that are superficially shocking,' he added.

Jailing him for life with a minimum of 17 years, Mr Justice Soole said Potter had strangled his wife 'without premeditation, in a sudden and furious burst of temper.'

He added: 'You treated and exposed Lesley Potter's naked body to that terrible indignity and dishonour.   

'I am sure that, in the moment of your sudden furious attack, you intended to kill. 

'As your own evidence chillingly explained, you had a very clear understanding of the difference between the use of the hands as a temporary restraint and their use to kill by strangulation.

'You knew what you were doing. You acted as you did in a sudden, independent and terrible moment of hostile fury.'

Potter told his colleague Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia that this wife had been 'doing his head in' and he had strangled her.
Potter told his colleague Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia that this wife had been 'doing his head in' and he had strangled her.

Potter told his colleague Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia that this wife had been 'doing his head in' and he had strangled her.

Potter was interviewed by police in his home shortly after his wife died
Potter was interviewed by police in his home shortly after his wife died

Potter was interviewed by police in his home shortly after his wife died

CCTV footage of Lesley Potter shopping before he went home and murdered his wife
CCTV footage of Lesley Potter shopping before he went home and murdered his wife

CCTV footage of Lesley Potter shopping before he went home and murdered his wife

The sentencing hearing also heard moving statements from Mrs Potter's children, who described their mother as 'kind and loving'. 

A statement from Lesley's today read: 'We are very pleased with the guilty verdict, confirming that Derek Potter was responsible for the death of our mother Lesley.

'We want to thank the members of the jury for listening to the evidence they heard during the course of the trial and for disregarding the stories that Derek Potter made up in an attempt to cover up his actions.

'Not only have we had to come to terms with the fact that he so cruelly killed our mother but we have had to listen to him tarnishing her name throughout the investigation and court case.

'Our mum was very loving and caring mother and a wonderful grandma. Sadly she was not here to see the birth of her sixth grandchild in September, as her life had been violently taken away from her.

'She was known by many in the village and will be sorely missed. 

'We have not yet been able to properly grieve for the cruel, violent and untimely death of our mother. Hopefully with the guilty verdict and today's sentence we will now be able to do so.'

Potter took his wife's body to the spare room of their home (pictured) where he set up a noose 
Potter took his wife's body to the spare room of their home (pictured) where he set up a noose 

Potter took his wife's body to the spare room of their home (pictured) where he set up a noose 

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Darren George, from South Wales Police's Major Crime Team, said following the hearing: 'Derek Potter went to great lengths to try and disguise his horrific and callous crime - he remained confident up to his conviction that he could evade justice.

'I am extremely grateful to the witnesses in this case, whose compelling evidence helped the jury to see through Potter's persistent and devious lies, which he has maintained throughout and during his trial.'

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