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Northampton husband guilty of domestic murder


A man from Northampton discovered drunk and bleeding at Euston station has been convicted of the murder of his wife at their home following a breakdown in their relationship.

Philip Dafter killed his wife Diana on the morning of 7 October 2022. She had returned from taking their daughter to school when Dafter descended into violence, stabbing Diana repeatedly with a kitchen knife. Once he had killed her, Dafter decided to self harm, but with the kitchen knife broken in the attack, he went to a local supermarket to buy more kitchen knives and stabbed himself in the stomach. He then drank a large amount of whisky, before driving to Northampton station and catching a train to London. He was found by train staff and police officers at Euston Station, bleeding heavily, drunk and admitting to having killed his wife.

Following Dafter’s disclosures that he had killed his wife, the British Transport Police officers at the scene immediately alerted officers in Northampton, who discovered Diana’s body at the family’s home.

Dafter admitted responsibility for killing Diana but denied murder. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis that he was not responsible for his actions, but following a three-week trial at Northampton Crown Court, he was convicted of murder.

Vinit Kotecha from the CPS sad: “Philip Dafter tried to avoid responsibility for his actions, but the evidence was clear that he had attacked and killed his wife Diana and that he had intended to do it. The tragedy of this case is that Diana was attacked and killed in her own kitchen, at home where she should have been the safest of all. Dafter’s intent was clear to see in his actions – the violence of his attack and his movements after the killing.

“Throughout the piecing together of the evidence in this case and the efforts we have made to bring Philip Dafter to justice, the thing that is abundantly clear is the impact of this tragedy on the rest of their family. Their children must now grow up without their mother and the knowledge of how she died. I would like to offer all of Diana’s loved ones my most profound sympathies.”

Philip Dafter will be sentenced on 19 May.

Building the case:

To prove an allegation of murder, the CPS must present evidence that the defendant was responsible for the killing and that they intended to kill or at least do really serious harm when they attacked the victim. This can be either pre-meditated or it can equally be an intent formed in a split-second decision.

Philip Dafter claimed that he had lost control and that he had diminished responsibility due to his own struggles with his mental health. The issue for the trial was therefore whether he was in sufficient control of his actions to form the necessary intent.

The CPS presented evidence that Dafter was in control of his actions throughout the attack and that he had intended to kill or do really serious harm. The CPS argued that the level of violence used in the attack was evidence of Dafter’s intent and that he was not suffering a temporary loss of control. The prosecution case was that this was a prolonged and violent attack, during which Dafter had ample time to regain control of himself and spare Diana’s life. Instead, he continued his violence until she was dead. After the attack he made no effort to seek medical help, instead abandoning her to go to Asda and run away to London.

To demonstrate a loss of control, a defendant must be responding to a specific provocation and that another person would react in the same way to that provocation. The CPS presented evidence that this could not have been the case because of the level of prolonged violence in the attack. The prosecution also presented evidence about the breakdown of the relationship between Dafter and Diana and his conduct leading up to the murder. This included allegations of his infidelity and an ongoing interaction with someone in Malawi that had caused Diana some concerns and his comments that Diana would, in his words, ‘go on and on at him’. This evidence demonstrated that his actions were the result of forming intent to kill during a disagreement with Diana and not the result of extreme provocation.

The defence of diminished responsibility is for the defence to prove. A jury must be satisfied that the defendant’s actions were sufficiently impaired by a mental health condition that they could not form the necessary intent. While both the defence and the prosecution agreed that Dafter did have a history of anxiety and depression, the prosecution argued that this was not of a sufficient level to impair his actions to the extent that he would resort to fatal violence towards his wife.

The CPS secured evidence from psychiatrists to demonstrate to the jury that neither his mental health condition not his medication would have been likely to have resulted in this impairment. Many other people suffer the same condition and use the same treatment and there is no medical causal link between these conditions and their treatment and domestic homicide.

The CPS also instructed psychiatrists to demonstrate to the jury that Dafter’s actions and interactions after he had killed Diana were measured and not the actions of someone who has lost control of their actions. It was the prosecution’s case that Philip Dafter had not been influenced by any mental health condition or loss of control and had acted with intent to kill Diana or to do her really serious harm.

Notes to editors

  • Vinit Kotecha is a senior crown prosecutor at CPS East Midlands

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