Penelope and David Jackson: The 24-year marriage which ended in murder

Penelope and David Jackson

Penelope and David Jackson were married for 24 years before she killed her husband by stabbing him three times.

They lived across three countries together - but although their friends described their marriage as looking happy from the outside, their relationship was tumultuous.

She admitted manslaughter but denied murder, claiming Mr Jackson subjected her to coercive behaviour, controlling her actions and acting violently towards her.

A jury of eight women and four men found Jackson guilty of murder after 11 hours of deliberation. She was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.

Over a two-and-a-half week trial, a picture of their strenuous marriage was told to the jury, which ITV West Country has put together in a timeline below.


Penelope and David Jackson get married. David was Penelope's fourth husband and she was his third wife.

Penelope had worked in administration and accounts in the Royal Air Force and later the army, where she met Mr Jackson - who had worked his way up from private to lieutenant colonel.

Before settling in Somerset, the couple lived in Germany and France and their friends had described them as happy together.

But during this year David Jackson allegedly takes an axe to their furniture. Penelope said in the years following her second husband’s death, she felt forced to hide mementos including photographs and love letters from him, fearing they would be destroyed.

Penelope Jackson admitted manslaughter but denied the murder of her husband David. Credit: Elizabeth Cook

Jackson told the jury: “I always kept my wedding pictures and I put them in the loft. In 1996 work took us to Germany and one night before that I went to bed and when I got up the next morning the room had been smashed to pieces.

"He had used an axe and the sofa and sitting room had been slashed."


Penelope told the jury “extreme violence” from her husband started in 1998 after the suicide of David's son from his first marriage.

Penelope’s daughter from a previous marriage, Isabelle Potterton, told the court about three incidents of alleged violence which she says took place around 1997 or 1998 - when the family had been living on a military base in Germany.

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

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’."

David Jackson and Penelope Jackson with their daughter Isabelle.

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.

She said 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.


Penelope texted her husband writing: 'You frighten me. I cannot grow old like this'. Another message from that year read: 'I love you but I can no longer cope'.

March 2020

Jackson told Bristol Crown Court that when England went into lockdown in March last year her social life stopped and she was always at home with her husband.

“I was there all the time, there was no escape,” she told the court. “I didn’t know when he woke up if I was going to be with nice David or ratty David who would put the dinner down the waste disposal.”

December 2020

Police were called to the Jackson home following a row over a TV remote control.

The defendant told officers she had locked her husband in their conservatory so he would "calm down" but that he had smashed his way out with the poker from their wood burning stove.

She claimed he had been acting out of character following an operation to replace the battery in a deep brain implant used to manage a condition that caused his hands and limbs to tremble.

David Jackson died after being stabbed Credit: Jackson family/PA

An officer told her the incident would be recorded as an assault and the couple should not be under the same roof that night.

When an officer telephoned her a few days later, Penelope said she and her husband had sorted out their problem and he had turned the voltage on his pacemaker battery down after a call had been put in to the hospital. He was back to his normal self and had no recollection of what had happened.

Penelope and David Jackson were married for 24 years.

February 13, 2021 - The night of David Jackson's death

Isabelle Potterton had bought Penelope and David a gourmet meal of crab, lobster and steak for her mother's birthday. The three ate the meal over Zoom, with Isabelle's partner.

But the court heard the evening turned sour when David got angry because Penelope had prepared a side dish of bubble and squeak vegetables to eat alongside the meal.

Penelope says she went to bed with a knife under her pillow for protection.

She told the court she went into the couple's spare room, saying: “I told David I had had enough and was going to kill myself and he said ‘get on with it then’ – I then thought ‘why should it be me? It’s you’.”

Penelope claimed David had laid down on the spare bed and goaded her into stabbing him. She claimed when her husband called her 'pathetic' and told her to go back to bed, she slashed him with the knife, causing a wound to his chest.

  • Listen to the 999 call from the Jackson household

The court heard Penelope then left the bedroom and took the knife to the kitchen where she wrote a note confessing to stabbing her husband.

Penelope said David went into the lounge of their bungalow to get the phone to ring the police and then walked into the kitchen, telling her: “See how it feels to have the police phoned on you.”

David told the 999 operator his wife had attacked him and could be heard screaming in pain as she stabbed him again twice.

Penelope herself then took over the call, and calmly told the call handler: "I've killed my husband, or tried to, because I've had enough."

  • Bodycam footage of Penelope's arrest.

She repeatedly refused to help her husband when the call handler asked her to apply pressure to the wound.

Police officers arrived at the Jackson home at 9.25pm and found David bleeding to death in his underpants in the couple's kitchen.

Penelope was taken to the police station and was re-arrested for murder at 9.57pm, just before she got out of the police car.

  • Footage shows Penelope being re-arrested for murder.

February 14

Penelope refused to answer questions in a police interview and instead she put forward a prepared statement claiming David had been abusive and controlling towards her.

David's post-mortem was carried out. Penelope was subsequently charged with murder.

March 19

Penelope's trial date is set for October 11 and Penelope is remanded in custody.

October 11

Penelope's trial starts starts at Bristol Crown Court.

October 27

The jury is sent out to consider its verdict.

October 28

The jury returns a verdict of guilty, after 11 hours of deliberation.

She was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years.

As he sentenced her, Judge Martin Picton remarked Jackson had shown “not a shred of remorse” for the killing.

Judge Picton said: “Despite professing to still love him, you sought to portray David Jackson as a monster.

“Whilst there was 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.