29 October 2021

Penelope Jackson: Retired accountant who killed her ‘abusive’ husband

29 October 2021

Retired accountant Penelope Jackson said she was driven to fatally stab her husband after suffering years of physical abuse and emotional bullying at his hands.

The 66-year-old knifed retired lieutenant colonel David Jackson, 78, three times at their home in Berrow, Somerset, on February 13 and refused to help as he bled to death on the kitchen floor.

Jackson claimed her husband coercively controlled her, blocking her from seeing friends, and even deciding what she watched on television.

Over the course of her trial at Bristol Crown Court, various witnesses painted a picture of Jackson as a confident woman who had worked her way up to a senior administrative position in the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The jury heard that she frequently travelled independently of her husband during their marriage, and worked for a stint in Sierra Leone.

Penelope Jackson giving evidence at Bristol Crown Court (Elizabeth Cook/PA) (PA Wire)

The couple’s daughter, Isabelle Potterton, said her parents often “bickered” but that arguments would soon pass.

She recalled three incidents of serious aggression by her father against her mother, including him pulling a knife on her, around 1997 and 1998 – but agreed these had been in the aftermath of the suicide of his son from his first marriage.

She agreed that, for the past 20 years, the couple had seemed to have a close and loving relationship.

Mrs Potterton’s husband, Tom Potterton, said he saw his wife’s parents bicker and argue but it was “relatively short-lived and forgotten about” and nothing that caused him concern.

Asked if he ever saw Mr Jackson hurt the defendant, Mr Potterton replied: “No. He once or twice raised his hand in frustration but on no account did I envisage he would do anything, and he never did.”

Julie Smith, who became friends with Jackson when they both worked in accounts and administration at the MoD, said she would often have one-to-one calls with her.

She told the court: “David was quiet, unassuming, sociable, a good man. Penelope was sociable and gregarious.

“They both had quite strong views so they were similar in that respect.”

Ms Smith continued: “They seemed to rub along quite well, just little disagreements like any married couple.”

Joan Clargo struck up a friendship with Jackson at their local gym in 2018 and told the court they would regularly socialise together with their husbands.

Mrs Clargo said Jackson was similar to her own husband in that they were both quite loud, while she was more like Mr Jackson “in that we were the quieter of the two”.

She revealed that the victim had a codeword – “car park” – which was a signal for the defendant to calm down when she was getting carried away.

Penelope Jackson claimed her husband David was abusive and controlling (Jackson family/PA) (PA Media)

But Jackson’s stepdaughter, Jane Calverley, the victim’s daughter from his first marriage, said the defendant seemed to enjoy baiting people.

Ms Calverley said: “I always felt everything had to revolve around Jackson – she was a very larger-than-life character, she would enjoy making people uncomfortable.”

She described a time when her father and stepmother had stayed with her family in Australia for five weeks, and Jackson would leave the door to their bedroom open when she was naked.

“She didn’t care that my son, who was entering puberty, would observe her sitting there naked, drying her hair,” Ms Calverley said.

“For me, the defendant liked baiting people for fun, sport – she liked to see my father uncomfortable, and she enjoyed that.”

Elsewhere, Sheila Taylor, the victim’s second wife, told the court that Jackson had once threatened to mutilate Mr Jackson.

Ms Taylor said that, after her divorce from the victim had been finalised, he had told her Jackson had threatened to “do a Bobbit on him” if he ever tried to leave her.

The alleged threat was a reference to a high-profile case in the US at around the same time, where a wife had cut off her husband’s penis.

Ms Taylor said she believed her former husband “was afraid of Penelope”.

“He was frightened she would destroy his Army career and destroy his reputation, and there’s no doubt in my mind she was capable of doing that,” Ms Taylor added.

In his instructions to the jury, Judge Martin Picton said: “There is no such thing as a typical victim of domestic abuse and no such thing as a typical abuser; domestic abuse can occur irrespective of age, gender and social circumstances.”

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