A retired accountant has been jailed for at least 18 years for knifing her husband to death then refusing to follow a 999 operator’s instructions to help him as he bled to death on the kitchen floor.
Penelope Jackson stabbed her husband of 24 years, David, 78, at their home in Parsonage Road, Berrow, Somerset, on February 13 this year.
In a call to emergency services, she told the call handler: “I thought I’d get his heart but he hasn’t got one.”
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.
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 and saying she had lost control following years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband.
On Friday, Jackson was found guilty at Bristol Crown Court of murder on a majority of 10 jurors to two after nearly 11 hours of deliberations.
Sentencing her to life in prison with a minimum term of 18 years, Judge Martin Picton dismissed her claims that her husband had abused her.
He said: “Despite professing to still love him, you sought to portray David Jackson as a monster.
“Whilst there were, no doubt, as in any marriage, points of friction that the lockdown would have exacerbated, I have no doubt that he was nothing like the person you have claimed.”
Judge Picton continued: “You took the life of another human being.
“That is a terrible thing to do and it represents a burden you and all the other family members will have to bear for the rest of their lives.
“Their memories of (David Jackson) will always be tarnished by the manner of his death and by the way you sought to portray him.”
He added he had not seen “a shred” of remorse from the defendant during the four days she gave evidence.
Judge Picton described the killing as a “vindictive and cruel act” by the defendant, saying: “When you inflicted the first wound to (the victim’s) chest, I have no doubt you were aiming for his heart.”
He added: “I have no doubt that you intended to kill your husband and that this was a pre-meditated murder.”
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.”
Various witnesses described the victim and defendant as a couple that seemed happy together – who would bicker but with rows never lasting long.
In her victim impact statement, Mrs Potterton said: “I have lost the man that I looked up to and loved. I have lost the man that was always there for me no matter what.”
She added: “But I feel I have also lost my mum. I have lost the woman who always knew how to make me feel better.
“The woman who was my friend, my champion and my support. The woman who cared, cherished and loved me.
“Yes, I know mum is here, but she’s not the same person I knew. I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that the relationship I once cherished can never be built back to what it was.
“You’ve taken so much from a family that has already felt so much pain,” she said.
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.
Acknowledging the past violence, Judge Picton said, regardless of the circumstances, Mr Jackson’s actions had been “very wrong”.
But he added that, after receiving treatment, the victim and the defendant had spent many years together, sharing “many periods of what must have been very happy times”.
Jane Calverley, Mr Jackson’s daughter from his first marriage, from whom he was estranged, accused the defendant of being the abuser in the relationship.
Ms Calverley said her father would never have sought help because he would have been too proud to admit to being bullied and abused by his wife.
“You have taken so much from us all. My father was a proud man, this probably cost him his life because he would he would never have sought help.”
Ms Calverley said the defendant had “ultimate power” over the victim, adding: “You held on so tight to him and controlled him to prevent him from leaving.”
Sally Helliwell, senior prosecutor for the south west with the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This has been a difficult and tragic case to prosecute. As with all domestic homicides we needed to ensure the case was handled with the greatest of care and thoughtfulness.
“The strength of the multimedia and the evidence from friends and family that was presented in this case left the jury in little doubt that Penelope Jackson was guilty of murdering her husband.
“Our thoughts remain with the family. I would like to thank them for their support in this prosecution and the way they have conducted themselves during the trial. I hope this conviction provides some sense of justice for the family and friends of David Jackson.”