Fam­ily trib­ute to mother as hus­band jailed for 17 years

South Wales Evening Post - - FRONT PAGE - JA­SON EVANS

A FAM­ILY has paid trib­ute to a “lov­ing and car­ing” mother and grand­mother af­ter her killer was locked up for at least 17 years.

Derek Pot­ter stran­gled his wife then faked her sui­cide to try to cover his tracks.

A MAN who stran­gled his wife to death then faked her sui­cide to try to cover his tracks has been sen­tenced to life in prison.

Derek Ian Pot­ter must serve a min­i­mum of 17 years be­hind bars be­fore he can ask for pa­role.

Pot­ter mur­dered his wife of 26 years, Les­ley, at their home in Mum­bles in April this year, then staged a hang­ing to make it look as if she had taken her own life.

He de­nied mur­der, but was con­victed fol­low­ing a trial at Swansea Crown Court.

The 64-year-old re­turned to the dock yes­ter­day to be sen­tenced.

Dur­ing his po­lice in­ter­views and dur­ing the trial, Pot­ter span a web of lies to cover up what he had done, claim­ing at var­i­ous times that his wife had killed her­self be­cause she was de­pressed, had died while chok­ing her­self for sex­ual plea­sure, or had died at the hands of their son-in-law, a Rus­sian woman their daugh­ter knew, drug deal­ers or Ma­sons.

He de­scribed how he had made des­per­ate at­tempts to free the rope from around her neck af­ter find­ing her hang­ing, and had even­tu­ally cut her down.

But the truth was he had choked her to death in a fit of tem­per while she was naked, most prob­a­bly while pin­ning her down.

He then hung a rope from the ceil­ing in a rear bed­room, and put a noose around his wife’s neck be­fore call­ing 999.

Dur­ing the trial he told lurid tales of be­ing in a three-way sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with his wife and a lodger which in­volved sado­masochism, as­phyx­i­a­tion, ropes, swings and role play­ing.

At one stage dur­ing the trial he boasted to the jury about his “crazy sex life” and how he had been mar­ried four times.

He also said he be­lieved he had “heal­ing pow­ers” in his hands.

A num­ber of times he told the jury how easy it would be to kill some­body by stran­gling them, and all you needed was a fin­ger and a thumb on the wind­pipe to do it.

The death of 66-yearold Mrs Pot­ter was ini­tially not treated as sus­pi­cious by the au­thor­i­ties, and her body was pre­pared for funeral.

But just two weeks be­fore the cre­ma­tion a woman called Natalia Mikhaeiloea-kisse­levskaia went to the po­lice to re­port a con­ver­sa­tion she had with Pot­ter in The Ge­orge pub in Mum­bles a few days ear­lier, in which she said Pot­ter had con­fessed to killing his wife.

The funeral was put on hold, Mrs Pot­ter’s body was re­moved from the chapel of rest and taken back to hospi­tal, and a full post-mortem or­dered.

That de­tailed ex­am­i­na­tion found not only bruises and a lig­a­ture mark on her neck, but bruises on her arms, body, legs and feet, and in­ter­nal bruis­ing deep in the belly and neck.

Mrs Pot­ter also had 30 rib frac­tures.

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

Pot­ter was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of mur­der.

The car­pen­ter main­tained his in­no­cence dur­ing the sub­se­quent twoweek trial, but a jury took just over an hour to con­vict him of mur­der.

Dur­ing the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing Paul Hob­son, ju­nior coun­sel for the pros­e­cu­tion, read out vic­tim im­pact state­ments from fam­ily mem­bers.

In her state­ment, Vic­to­ria Bull, Mrs Pot­ter’s daugh­ter from her first mar­riage, de­scribed the agony of hav­ing to tell her chil­dren that their grand­mother had taken her own life – only to have to break the news a few weeks later that their grand­fa­ther had

in fact killed her.

She said: “As a par­ent you do ev­ery­thing you can to pro­tect your chil­dren – but I could not pro­tect them from this.”

Ms Bull went on de­scribe how her mother had been “cru­elly and de­ceit­fully taken from me in the most unimag­in­able way”, and that her first thought ev­ery morn­ing, and her last thought ev­ery night, was of her mum.

She added that she felt her mother’s mem­ory had been “tar­nished” by the lies Pot­ter had told in court.

Mr Hob­son also read out a state­ment from Adrian Bull, Mrs Pot­ter’s son from her first mar­riage.

He de­scribed his mother as “kind and lov­ing” and said: “I will miss my mum for the rest of my life and know­ing I could not pro­tect her is hard to live with.”

A state­ment was also read out on be­half of the Pot­ters’ daugh­ter, Ni­cole Nje­go­van, in which she said: “I will for­ever grieve for her, she is my best friend.”

Mark Wyeth QC, bar­ris­ter for Pot­ter, said peo­ple who knew the de­fen­dant well de­scribed him as a “be­nign fan­ta­sist”.

He said the killing had not been pre­med­i­tated.

The judge, Mr Jus­tice Soole, de­scribed Mrs Pot­ter as a “woman of strong char­ac­ter” who loved her fam­ily, and who was look­ing for­ward to the birth of her next grand­child. He told the de­fen­dant he was sure he had killed her in a “sud­den and fu­ri­ous burst of tem­per” and sub­jected her body to the “ter­ri­ble in­dig­nity and dis­hon­our” of a faked hang­ing.

Pot­ter was sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment, and must serve a min­i­mum of 17 years be­fore he can be con­sid­ered for pa­role.

As he was taken down to the cells, he said: “Thank you very much, my lord” to the judge.

Derek Pot­ter has been jailed for life with a min­i­mum term of 17 years af­ter be­ing con­victed of mur­der­ing his wife Les­ley at their home in Hill Street, Mum­bles, right.

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