Obsessed university worker who knifed boss to death jailed for 28 years

An obsessed university worker who murdered his boss and scrawled "bully" across her forehead has been jailed for 28 years.

David Browning left Jillian Howell, 46, lying in blood on the floor of her lounge after stabbing her 15 times and then posted a sick image on Facebook.

Browning, a deputy to Ms Howell in the University of Brighton payroll department, was a spurned admirer who was “deeply self-centred, selfish, with a vindictive streak”, a trial heard.

The 52-year-old claimed he and Ms Howell clashed at work but became friends, and he decided he had to kill her after battling depression following the sudden death of his father.

Prosecutor Alan Gardner called Browning the “epitome of urban normality”, leading a stable life until it was jolted by the loss of his father who died after falling off a ladder in October 2016, leaving him in emotional crisis.

Samaritans volunteer Ms Howell, who had lost both her parents, told friends she wanted to help him and try to cheer him up by inviting him over to dinner at her Brighton home, Hove Crown Court heard.

Browning planned the killing for months after forming an “intense attachment” to her and fearing she would reject him, Mr Gardner said.

He became “possessive, controlling and jealous”, buying his boss gifts, flowers and wine – even bringing back presents for her from a holiday with his family.

Browning previously told the court how a “whoosh” came over him after he shared a curry with Ms Howell, and he stabbed her in the back while she bent down to tie a shoelace.

He told the court she grabbed the knife and screamed “You bastard” and he responded by saying: “I’m sorry Jill, this is what mental health does to you.”

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He stayed in the house for “several hours” on October 25 last year, during which time he posted a cartoon on Facebook with the slogan “Stand up to bullies, then kill them” – a post “liked” by two people.

He then handed himself in to police, telling them: “In a nutshell, I have killed my boss.”

The married father, who has a 21-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter, admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility and possession of a knife in a public place, but this was rejected by the prosecution.

As he was found guilty of murder on Wednesday, there were relieved gasps, cries and cheers of “yes, thank you” from the packed public gallery as the guilty verdict was read out.

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