Woman who murdered husband in birthday row after ‘years of abuse’ jailed for life

29 October 2021, 16:30 | Updated: 29 October 2021, 18:03

Bodycam footage shows moment of Penelope Jackson's arrest

By Asher McShane

A woman who stabbed her husband to death, claiming she "lost control" after he subjected her to years of abuse, has been jailed for life after being found guilty of his murder.

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Penelope Jackson knifed her husband David, 78, a retired colonel, at their home in Parsonage Road, in Berrow, Somerset, on February 13 this year following a row over bubble and squeak being served during a birthday meal.

In an 18-minute phone call to emergency services, Jackson told the call handler her husband, a retired lieutenant colonel, was "bleeding to death with any luck" on their kitchen floor.

During her arrest she told police: "I should have stabbed him more.

"He's an aggressive bully and I've had enough," she said.

David Jackson was stabbed to death by his wife Penelope
David Jackson was stabbed to death by his wife Penelope. Picture: Avon and Somerset police

She was jailed for life this afternoon with a minimum term of 18 years at Bristol Crown Court.

Sentencing her, judge Martin Picton said her attempt to paint her husband as an abuser had failed, and he criticised her for failing to show "a shred of remorse" over the murder.

She repeatedly refused to help the victim when the operator asked her to take steps such as apply pressure to the wound or throw him a towel to try and stem the bleeding.

Bodycam footage shows Penelope Jackson in the moments after she stabbed her husband
Bodycam footage shows Penelope Jackson in the moments after she stabbed her husband. Picture: Avon and Somerset police

Jackson jotted down a confession on a notepad by the telephone, and when she was arrested on suspicion of murder, replied: "It's murder now, not attempted murder? Oh good."

But she would later deny murder, pleading guilty to manslaughter saying she had lost control following years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband.

Penelope Jackson has been found guilty of murder
Penelope Jackson has been found guilty of murder. Picture: Alamy

On Friday, Jackson was found guilty at Bristol Crown Court of murder after nearly 11 hours of deliberations.

There was a gasp from the public gallery, which was packed with David Jackson's extended family, when the verdict was read out.

She did not react to the jury's verdict.

During the two-and-a-half week trial, the jury heard the Jacksons had rowed about the defendant serving bubble and squeak with a gourmet meal bought for them by their daughter during lockdown.

The victim and defendant had eaten the meal with their daughter and son-in-law Isabelle and Tom Potterton over Zoom.

Mr and Mrs Potterton both said the row seemed to have blown over but added they had ended the call when the Jacksons began arguing over who had failed to charge their computer properly.

In her evidence, Jackson said the row over bubble and squeak had tipped her over the edge.

"He had the contempt for me and he had been so rude and obnoxious in front of our daughter," she said.

"It wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back but in was in the bundle."

Describing her marriage, Jackson said: "I didn't know if I was waking up to nice David or nasty David."

The defendant said her husband was often violent following arguments.

"It would escalate, and he would shake me most of the time, he strangled me sometimes and I would go unconscious sometimes."

She added: "Other times I would be semi-conscious, and I would be on the bed or the floor and if he was really angry he would kick me."

Jackson claimed that on the night of the killing she had taken a kitchen knife to her bedroom intending to use it to take her own life, but instead walked into her husband's bedroom to speak to him.

"I wanted him to say: 'I am sorry, Pen.' He didn't, he just said: 'For God's sake you are pathetic, get on with it and go back to bed'," she said.

"It was just like, 'Pass the sugar'. I was in utter despair. I looked at him and said: 'I have done nothing wrong, admit you are sorry.' He said: 'For God's sake shut up'. He literally couldn't be bothered - it was utter contempt."

Describing the moment she stabbed the victim, Jackson said: "I lost all control."

She continued: "If I had been the normal Penny, I wouldn't have done it.

"I am sorry, I lost the plot and lost control."

Various witnesses described the victim and defendant as a couple that seemed happy together - who would bicker but with rows never lasting long.

Mrs Potterton recalled three instances of serious aggression by her father against her mother between 1997 and 1998, including pulling a knife on her and once giving her a bloody nose.

But she agreed this had taken place in the immediate aftermath of the suicide of Mr Jackson's son, Gavin, from his previous marriage.

Mrs Potterton said she believed her father had sought counselling to cope with his grief, and agreed that her parents seemed to be enjoying a happy retirement together with lots of shared interests including cruise holidays and gardening.

Jackson is due to be sentenced later on Friday.

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