Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - NINO WIL­LIAMS & JA­SON EVANS news­[email protected]­line.co.uk

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

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