Man stabbed boss 15 times before writing ‘bully’ on her face

Defendant David Browning leaving Hove Crown Court. Photograph by Eddie Mitchell
Defendant David Browning leaving Hove Crown Court. Photograph by Eddie Mitchell

A university worker from Seaford who stabbed his boss to death at her home in Brighton had formed an ‘intense attachment’ to her following the death of his father, a court heard.

At Hove Crown Court this week, a jury heard how David Browning, 51, handed himself in to police after stabbing 46-year-old Jillian Howell to death at her home in Sandgate Road, Brighton on October 25 last year.

Browning denies murder, but has admitted to manslaughter with diminished responsibility claiming he was suffering from severe depression.

The jury heard that Browning, of Willows Drive in Seaford, stabbed Ms Howell 15 times, painted her forehead with the word ‘bully’ and scrawled graffiti around her flat before handing himself in to officers at Brighton Police Station.

Alan Gardner, prosecuting, said that in the time following his father’s death, Browning began to suffer from depression and had confided in Jillian Howell, who began offering him support by meeting with him outside of work.

In this time, Mr Gardner said, Browning formed an ‘intense attachment’ to Jillian Howell and ‘wanted a closer relationship with her.’

The jury was read texts Browning had sent Ms Howell during this time.

In one he said he ‘adored her personally and professionally’, in another he told her that ‘you are more than my boss and I think you know that.’

Mr Gardner said Ms Howell, who had been Browning’s boss at the University of Brighton payroll and pensions department and was also a volunteer with the Samaritans, had told friends of her concerns about Browning.

She told one friend that Browning had told her she couldn’t move jobs or could get a boyfriend as he needed her to support him, Mr Gardener said.

The court heard that the weeks leading up to the killing, Browning had bought a shotgun and a knife from an outdoors shop in Brighton, telling staff he was interested in taking up clay pigeon shooting.

The court heard that Browning had the shotgun on his person when he surrendered himself at Brighton Police Station and told officers he had planned to use it to kill himself but could not do so.

The knife was found to be the same as the one he used to kill Ms Howell after meeting her at her home on October 25.

Mr Gardner said: “He took the knife with him and at some point during the course of the evening he attacked her. He stabbed her in the back.

“To the prosecution this is a case of nothing less than murder. Carefully planned and pre-meditated.

“A cold-blooded murder by a man she trusted as a friend and colleague.”

Mr Gardner added: “He killed out of jealousy and out of anger, rather than an uncontrollable urge acted on in a bout of depression.”

The trial continues.