Lesley Potter death: Suicide lie husband jailed for murder

image copyrightSouth Wales Police
image captionDerek Potter strangled his wife then made it appear as if she had hanged herself

A man who faked his wife's suicide and was only caught after confessing to murder to a co-worker in the pub has been jailed for at least 17 years.

Derek Potter, 64, killed his wife Lesley, 66, at their Swansea home on 7 April and made it look like a suicide.

Police did not treat her death as suspicious until, one week before she was due to be cremated, Potter told a colleague "I had to strangle her".

At Swansea Crown Court, Potter was given a mandatory life sentence.

Mr Justice Soole said Potter had killed his wife in a "sudden furious burst of temper".

He said his decision to cover up the death as suicide had been a "shameful and despicable charade", giving a "varying array of false accounts".

The judge added: "You murdered your wife of 26 years by strangulation as you held her down by the force of your body.

"You then left the house in order to collect some money that was owed to you and to give you the opportunity to return home and purport to discover your wife's hanging body.

image captionPotter confessed to killing his wife to Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia

"Shortly afterwards you contacted the emergency services to report this supposed discovery."

The court heard no suicide note was found by emergency services when they were called to the couple's home on Hill Street, Mumbles, after Mrs Potter was found hanging naked in the couple's workshop.

Police did not initially treat it as a suspicious death and Potter said his wife had killed herself.

But a week before his wife's funeral, Potter took Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia out to a Swansea pub after work.

image captionLesley Potter's body was found at her home on Hill Street, Mumbles

While in The George, he told her: "I love my wife very much, but she was doing my head in so I had to strangle her."

He told her his wife's last words were "she still had a crush on a schoolboy she'd known years ago".

Miss Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia told the trial Potter was "saying it with a straight face, no tears in his eyes, so I thought, 'oh God he's done it'."

Prosecutor Paul Hobson QC, said the police response was "not in certain respects as it should have been" and "mistakes were made" - something South Wales Police has since accepted.

In a victim impact statement, Mrs Potter's daughter Victoria Bull, said the last seven months have been "a living nightmare".

Following the sentence, the victim's family said: "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.

image captionThe George pub in Mumbles where the confession was made

"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 and we respectfully ask as a family that we are allowed to do so in peace."

South Wales Police senior investigating officer Det Ch Insp Darren George said: "Derek Potter, Lesley's husband, 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."

Felicity Galvin, from the CPS, said: "The forensic evidence presented by the CPS, together with evidence from witnesses, allowed us to build a picture of what really happened that day."

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