Builder who passed off wifes murder as suicide jailed after pub confession

Victoria Bull, one of Mrs Potter’s two children from her first marriage, said the day of her mother’s death was one of the hardest of her life as she had to tell her children their grandmother had killed herself.But weeks later, she had to tell them that in fact, she had been killed by the man they regarded as their grandfather.”As a parent, you do everything you can to protect your children – but I could not protect them from this,” she said.The Potters’ daughter Nicole Njegovan, said:  “I was four months’ pregnant at the time and I at first I was very sad and angry at my mum thinking that she had left me.”She said she found it very hard to come to terms with her father murdering her mother, adding: “I will forever grieve for her.”Paul Hobson, prosecuting, told Mr Justice Soole: “It is plain, on the day of Lesley Potter’s death the police response was not as it should have been and mistakes were made, either of common sense or procedure or of both.”We know scenes of crimes (officers) attended and took photographs but there was no wider inquiry than that. There was no action by CID and the force medical examiner. Miss Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia tipped off the police and a “full investigation” was launched, with Mrs Potter’s body taken from the chapel of rest for a post mortem.The court heard that she had several internal injuries, 30 rib fractures and more than 30 bruises over her neck, face, arms, back, legs and feet.Elwen Evans QC, prosecuting, said: “Mr Potter killed his wife by strangling her, using his hands.”He then tried to cover up what he had done by pretending she had suspended herself with a ligature. He almost got away with that pretence.”Potter denied murder and claimed his wife killed herself or could have died while choking herself for sexual pleasure.He claimed Miss Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia had misunderstood what he told her.But a jury took just one hour and 11 minutes to find him guilty of murder.Jailing Potter for a minimum of 17 years, Mr Justice Michael Soole branded his staged hanging a “shameful and despicable charade” which exposed his wife’s body to “terrible indignity and dishonour”.He added: “It was a ferocious attack. I’m sure than in the moment he strangled your wife that you intended to kill her. You knew what you were doing.” “What happened in this case is something (the police) have been looking at very seriously with a view to making improvements in regard to sudden deaths.”Lesley Potter’s family were told one thing, then another thing some time later. No family should have to deal with that.”South Wales Police said in a statement: “Now that the criminal proceedings are concluded we will consider the comments made and review the initial police response to this tragic death.” Police errors almost allowed a husband to get away with murdering his wife and staging a suicide until he admitted his crime to a woman in a pub.Derek Potter, 64, throttled his wife of 26 years before setting up their bedroom to make it look as though she had killed herself, Swansea Crown Court heard.Officers from South Wales Police failed to spot anything suspicious, treating the mother-of-three’s death, on April 7, as suicide.They accepted Potter’s claims that he had popped out for 15 minutes and returned to their home in Swansea to find his 66-year-old wife dead.Mrs Potter’s body was released for a funeral service with a cremation organised for May 8.But on April 25, Potter went for a drink with fellow builder Natalia Mikhailoea-Kisselevskaia, 32, at his local pub, The George, and told her what he had done.”We were still on our first pints when he said: ‘I have got to tell you something,’” she told the jury.”He said: ‘I love my wife very much but she was doing my head in so I strangled her’.”She added: “He was saying it with a straight face – no tears in his eyes, no laughter. I thought: ‘Oh my God, he’s done it’.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more