University worker guilty of murdering boss
A university worker has been convicted of stabbing his boss to death at her home in Brighton.
David Browning, 52, admitted the manslaughter of Jill Howell, 46, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but a jury at Lewes Crown Court today convicted him of murder, after hearing that he had planned to kill her for over two weeks.
Browning and his victim both worked in the payroll department at the University of Brighton. Ms Howell, who worked as a Samaritan, was trying to help Browning deal with his depression, following the death of his father the previous year.
They met for dinner on the evening of Wednesday 25 October and, during the course of the evening, he attacked her with a knife he had purchased. He then called Sussex Police the next morning to say he was outside John Street police station in Brighton with a shotgun in his hand and, having attempted suicide, he wanted to speak to a police officer.
Alice Trodden, from the CPS, said: “Jill Howell trusted David Browning as a friend and colleague and tried to help him through his difficulties, but he murdered her. These were not the actions of a man who snapped, unable to control an urge, but by someone who knew what he was doing.
“The CPS presented evidence which showed the killing was carefully planned and that Browning became intensely attached to Jill and attempted to control her. The jury saw text messages where Browning talked of his admiration for Jill and his advance admissions to psychiatrists of his intention to kill her.
“Browning attempted to implicate another man in Jill’s death and changed into new clothes after killing her. He gave a rational and accurate account to police the following day and deleted text messages he realised could be used against him.”
Browning was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 28 years imprisonment on Thursday 3 May 2018.
Notes to editors
Alice Trodden is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS South East