CARING MUM’S LIFE TAKEN IN ‘VIOLENT & CRUEL WAY’
Family tribute to mother as husband jailed for 17 years
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.