WEB OF LIES OF KILLER HUSBAND WHO TRIED TO GET AWAY WITH WIFE’S MURDER
AT 11.22am on Saturday, April 11, 2018, Derek Potter telephoned his daughter with terrible news – his wife of more than a quarter of a century had taken her own life.
It’s hard to imagine the impact that call would have had. A family torn apart. But it was a lie. Potter had in fact just murdered his wife of 26 years, Lesley, strangling her in a fit of furious rage at their home.
That lie on the phone was the first of many Potter was to tell in the weeks and months that followed – lies to family members, paramedics, police and, ultimately, to jurors. And he might have got away with it if not for one slip-up during a night in the pub.
But the murder and the lies he told about it would ultimately lead to the 64-year-old being given a life sentence.
Derek and Lesley Potter lived at 1 Hill Street, Mumbles, and at one time ran a cafe together in the village. Derek Potter later worked as a carpenter.
One former colleague described him as a “hard working tradesman with a bit of a temper”.
“Until this happened, I would only have had good things to say about Derek,” he said.
“But he did have a bit of a temper. On two occasions when he was working with me he lost his rag and started throwing his tools around, and I had to take him aside to have a word.”
Builder Ant Storer, who shared a drink with both Derek and Lesley Potter in pubs in Mumbles, said: “Derek had given up drinking because it could make him confrontational.
“He gave it up a few years ago, but I think he had been back on the whisky, and it could make him get punchy.
“I very rarely saw them together. They seemed all right together, but you never know what goes on behind closed doors, do you?”
“I knew Lesley more, she was suffering from arthritis.
“I had seem them together a bit more since he started drinking again, when he was back in the pub.”
On the evening of Friday, April 6, the Potters enjoyed a family meal in the George pub in Mumbles with children and grandchildren.
Staff in the pub later reported all appeared normal with the group.
But the next morning Potter brutally murdered his naked wife – pinning her down and throttling the life out of her.
The reason, if there was one, is not known.
At his trial the judge accepted the killing had not been planned.
But what followed the murder certainly was planned.
Potter tied a noose around his dead wife’s neck, and then staged a hanging in the rear bedroom of their house, rigging up a rope from a windlass balanced on two beams in the ceiling.
He then began to lie about what had happened.
And those lies were believed.
With Potter playing the part of husband who had come home from running an errand in the village to make the most gruesome of discoveries, South Wales Police did not treat the death as suspicious.
Detectives and the force medical examiner, the police doctor, did not attend the scene to investigate.
Mrs Potter’s body was taken to Morriston Hospital, and then released to undertakers.
The family made preparations for her funeral.
On April 28, Mrs Potter was taken to a chapel of rest in Mumbles in readiness for her cremation the following week.
Potter was on the verge of getting away with murder.
But that same day a woman called Natalia MikhaeiloeaKisselevskaia went to police to report a conversation she had with Potter a few days earlier – she said Potter had confessed to strangling his wife because she was “doing his head in”. initially
The body was hurriedly removed from the chapel of rest and taken back to Morriston Hospital, and then on to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff for a detailed post-mortem examination.
A Home Office pathologist concluded “manual strangulation” had played a part in her death. Potter was arrested in Mumbles. On the way to the police station he began to spin stories, telling detectives his wife had “wanted to go” and he had “helped her”.
Over the course of a dozen police interviews and three days in the witness box at Swansea Crown Court he told how he had returned home on the morning in question to find his wife hanging in the back room; how he had tried to free the ligature from around his wife’s neck, how he had desperately tried to lift her body to take the pressure off her neck before finally cutting her down.
He described how she fell to the floor “like a sack of spuds”.
He re-enacted for the jury how he had he tried to free his wife, and hold her up.
With each account, the details of what he did on the morning in question and the timings involved shifted and changed.
He also told lurid tales about a three-way sexual relationship he said he and his wife had enjoyed with a lodger called Paul – he told of sadomasochistic sex games, role playing, a swing erected in the rear bedroom, erotic choking and asphyxiation.
He said he had strangled his wife some 15 times during their relationship, usually during sex but on a couple of occasions in temper.
In the witness box he boasted of
From left, the last time Lesley Potter
Derek Potter was jailed for life for the murder of his wife