A man who strangled his wife before telling officers he had come home to find she had killed herself has today been sentenced to life in prison for her murder.
Lesley Potter, 66, was found dead at the home she shared with her husband Derek on Hill Street in Mumbles, Swansea, on April 7th.
Attending emergency services were told by Mr Potter that he had returned home after a brief outing to collect money to find his wife hanged.
The circumstances of Mrs Potter’s death were initially deemed to be non-suspicious. But a trial at Swansea Crown Court heard suspicion fell on Mr Potter some three weeks later when he disclosed his role in the death during a conversation at the pub.
The court heard witness contacted police on April 28th following the concerning conversation at the George Public House, telling officers: “He told me that she had not hung herself and that he had done it because he had enough of her.”
Potter was arrested two days later. Despite pleading not guilty to killing his wife – insisting she had previously expressed her wish to kill herself, but that he had not played a part in her death – Derek Potter was this week convicted of murder.
At a sentencing hearing on Thursday morning, Potter was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 17 years.
In a statement, Lesley Potter’s family said: “We are very pleased with the guilty verdict, confirming that Derek Potter was responsible for the death of our mother Lesley. We want to thank the members of the jury for listening to the evidence they heard during the course of the trial and for disregarding the stories that Derek Potter made up in an attempt to cover up his actions. 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.
“Our mum was very loving and caring to Adrian, Victoria and Nicole and a wonderful grandma to her five beautiful grandchildren. Sadly she was not here to see the birth of her sixth grandchild in September, as her life had been violently taken away from her, but we know she would have adored the new baby as much as she did the other children.
“Our mum had suffered with gout and arthritis for a very long time, but did not allow this to stop her living her life. She was strong-willed and determined not to let these conditions affect her life. She enjoyed a drink and liked to socialise, she enjoyed playing cards with a small group of friends in the local pubs in Mumbles. She would regularly walk to the shops and stop and chat with people, she was known by many in the village and will be sorely missed.
“We would like to publicly thank Natalia for coming forward and reporting her concerns to the police. We would also like to thank our family liaison officers and the whole investigation team from South Wales Police, along with Miss Elwen Evans QC and the prosecution team.
“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.”
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Darren George from South Wales Police’s Major Crime Team said: “Following the guilty verdict and today’s significant sentence handed to Derek Potter, my thoughts are firmly with Lesley and her family.
“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.
“This was an extremely challenging case for the investigation team. It has also been a tragic case which has devastated the lives of all those who knew and loved Lesley Potter. I must pay personal tribute to Lesley’s children, who have shown immense strength and dignity during the investigation and subsequent trial. I sincerely hope this week’s conviction and sentencing can in some way bring a little comfort to them as they begin to rebuild their lives.”