Daughter says killer mother was last threatened by step dad 'more than 20 years ago'

David Jackson Credit: PA Media

The daughter of a woman who knifed her husband to death has told a jury she remembers three times in her life when her step father - who raised her as his own child - was violent.

Isabelle Potterton said the last time she saw David Jackson, 78, confront her mother was more than 20 years ago.

Penelope Jackson stabbed her husband - Mr Jackson - three times at their home in Berrow, Somerset, in February this year.

The 66-year-old admits manslaughter but denies murder, claiming Mr Jackson was both violent and coercively controlling of her during their 24-year marriage.

At the start of week three of the murder trial at Bristol Crown Court today (October 25), the jury heard from Jackson's daughter from a previous marriage, Isabelle Potterton.

Mrs Potterton told Bristol Crown Court she had seen him pull a knife on her mother.

Penelope Jackson admits manslaughter but denies the murder of her husband. Credit: SWNS

She described three incidents which took place around 1997 or 1998 when the family had been living on a military base in Germany after the death of Mr Jackson’s son, Gavin.

Mrs Potterton, now 31, described Mr Jackson getting her out of bed and telling her to get a mug filed with chocolates she had got Jackson for Mother’s Day out of its hiding place in the airing cupboard.

“(The victim) smashed it in front of me,” she said.

On another occasion, Mrs Potterton recalled coming home from school and finding her father pushing her mother up against the wall, and her mother ending up with a bloody nose.

“After that my mum packed two suitcases and we went and stayed in a hotel that night, she said we were leaving,” Mrs Potterton said.

She continued: “It was really early in the morning and my mum woke me up and said: ‘We are going back home’.

“To my understanding it was mum who wanted to go back to being with dad, so (they) could work it out.”

Penelope Jackson in the dock at Bristol Crown Court Credit: Elizabeth Cook/PA

On the final occasion, Mrs Potterton recalled her father’s two daughters from his first marriage, his daughter-in-law, grandson and his mother visiting them in Germany.

“We were all having a barbecue in the garden. I can remember mum saying something and everyone jumping up and running into the house.”

She said a few moments later, she saw her mother up against a door on the top floor of the house with Mr Jackson holding a knife to her throat.

It took three of the guests to pull him off her mother, she said.

Mrs Potterton said she was unable to put the memories in order, and said she did not see another occasion when her father was violent towards the defendant.

Jackson previously told the court the “extreme violence” had started after the suicide of Mr Jackson's son in 1998.

When asked by prosecutor Christopher Quinlan QC if it had a "profound" effect on Mr Jackson, Mrs Potterton replied: “Yes, it broke him.”

“The worst time of his life?” Mr Quinlan asked.

“Yes, without a doubt,” the witness responded.

When asked by the prosecutor, Mrs Potterton agreed her parents seemed to be enjoying a happy retirement together, and had lots of shared interests including a love of cruise holidays and gardening.

Mr Quinlan said: “You’ve heard your unit, if I can put it like that, described as a very tight one – the three of you against the world. Do you agree?”

“Yes,” Mrs Potterton replied.

She said her parents would often bicker over small things, with her mother’s temper flaring and quickly passing, while her father had a tendency to “sulk”.

Mrs Potterton added her mother had mentioned leaving her father “sporadically” over the years, but never in any depth.

She recalled ending a Zoom dinner call she and her husband had arranged for her mother’s birthday on February 13 – the day of the killing – because her parents were bickering over who had forgotten to charge the iPad.

“Mum was getting upset and dad was walking out of the room, and I just said: ‘Let’s leave it there'.”

Mrs Potterton said: “I thought: ‘It’s just another bicker, they will be absolutely fine’. I wasn’t upset or anything and we ended it there.”

She called her mother at 8.08pm to check she was OK.

“(The defendant) said: ‘I’m absolutely fine, don’t worry I’ll call you in the morning’,” Mrs Potterton said.

Her mother fatally stabbed her father just over an hour later.

The jury is due to retire to consider its verdict later this week.