A retired accountant who killed her “abusive” husband has told a jury she stabbed him to death after a row over a birthday meal.
Penelope Jackson, 66, said she took a new kitchen knife upstairs to kill herself but instead attacked her husband, former army Lt Col David Jackson, 78, when he told her she was pathetic.
Jackson, from Berrow, Somerset, has admitted the manslaughter of her husband but denies murder and has said she was physically abused and mentally tormented by him for years.
Jackson told Bristol crown court her husband got angry with her in February because she had prepared a side dish of bubble and squeak to eat with the expensive meal bought by their daughter to celebrate her birthday.
“I was just horrified – it was the eyes again – they turned on a sixpence,” Jackson told the jury. “The conversation, which had been loud and chatty, just died. I was totally thrown and he was muttering: ‘You are just trying to show me up.’”
After the argument, Jackson said she took a kitchen knife to her bedroom intending to take her own life.
“I bought myself a set of really nice knives. I put it under my pillow. My marriage had just imploded. All my putting up with the violence, the unwanted sex, the belittling, stopping me doing things, all the horrible things I have told you about. That had been for nothing. Tonight he had shown to our daughter, his utter, utter, contempt to me.
“I could not see any way out. I know it is a stupid thing to have got to be in the dock for killing someone over bubble and squeak but that is what happened.”
She 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’,” she said.
“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.’ It was utter contempt.
“I just lost it – I just thought I cannot do this. It is not fair and I lost control and went like that. [She made a stabbing motion.] I don’t know why I did it. I’ve never been violent in my life. He just looked at me. He sat up and there was blood. I was absolutely horrified.”
Jackson said she went into the kitchen. She said her husband came down and picked up the phone to call for help. The defendant said he told her: “You couldn’t even get that right, you’re pathetic.” She stabbed him again.
The jury has heard a recording of a call to the emergency services in which Jackson said she had stabbed her husband in the heart, but added: “Well, he hasn’t got one.”
Jackson told the jury she was “appalled” when she read transcripts of what she had said to an emergency call handler but claimed she was “not herself” after more than 20 years of abuse.
Questioned about why she didn’t do anything to help her husband, she added: “I was scared witless of that man.”
Clare Wade QC, defending, asked the defendant: “When you stabbed him, did you intend to kill him?”
Jackson replied: “I didn’t intend to kill him. I just lost all control – I just wasn’t even there. My mind … I wasn’t angry. I had just had enough and lost the plot. I just lost control – I couldn’t take any more.”
She said throughout their 24 years of marriage her husband was very controlling, telling her what she could and could not watch on the television – programmes such as Doctor Who, Ackley Bridge and Made In Chelsea.
She also said he would not like her doing jigsaw puzzles or listening to The Archers on BBC Radio 4.
Jackson said that when the country went into lockdown, she was always at home with her husband. “I was there all the time, there was no escape,” she said.
She told the jury she was subjected to “pushing, shouting and shaking” throughout their marriage and her husband would be sexually violent. She said: “It’s just shameful to admit that you let your husband force you to have sex and you have not said no.”
The trial continues.