Obsessed university worker who stabbed his female boss 15 times is jailed

A former university worker was today jailed for at least 28 years after he tricked his female boss into a sharing a meal with him and murdered her when she rejected his romantic advances.

David Browning, 52, knifed Jillian Howell 15 times in the chest, neck and abdomen as she screamed 'you b*****d' in a struggle that ensued at her home in Brighton last October.

He had arrived at the 46-year-old payroll manager's house with a curry, flowers and a bottle of wine that they ate together before he launched the horrific attack. 

As she lay in a pool of blood on the lounge floor, Browning, who claimed Ms Howell had been unfair to him at work, scrawled 'bully' across her forehead in marker pen. 

The 52-year-old wrote other messages on the walls of her home, including one that blamed the murder on Sean McDonald, a friend of Ms Howell's and the Mayor of Worthing he believed was in a relationship with her. 

The victim's friends and family gasped and shouted 'Yes' yesterday as a jury rejected Browning's claims of diminished responsibility and convicted him of murder.

David Browning, pictured after his arrest, has been found guilty of murdering his boss

David Browning, pictured smiling as he leaves court earlier this month, has been found guilty of murdering his boss

David Browning, 52, pictured (left) after his arrest and (right) smiling as he leaves court earlier this month, has been found guilty of murdering his boss Jillian Howell, 46

After scrawling the world 'bully' on her head in marker pen, Browning also left messages on the wall of Ms Howell's (pictured) Brighton home, including one blaming her friend Sean McDonald (pictured) for the crime 

After scrawling the world 'bully' on her head in marker pen, Browning also left messages on the wall of Ms Howell's (pictured) Brighton home, including one blaming her friend Sean McDonald (pictured) for the crime 

Jillian Howell (pictured) had tried to help Browning after he suffered depression when his father died

Jillian Howell (pictured) had tried to help Browning after he suffered depression when his father died

Graham Trembath, defending, said the killing was 'inexcusable' and had ruined the lives of many people, not least his own family. 

'It is a fact that he was diagnosed as suffering from a depressive condition. It was clearly triggered by his father's tragic death. It does not excuse what he did.' 

Judge Christine Laing QC said: 'Jillian Howell as a much loved sister, cousin, niece and friend. She was 46 years old when she was murdered by you in a savage attack, sustaining 15 stab wounds. 

'In the final moments of her life she desperately tried to defend herself. The terror and trauma in her final few moments is unimaginable.'

'She said he had then defiled her body by scrawling 'Bully' on her forehead as she lay dead when it is clear that 'nothing was further from the truth.' 

'She was a compassionate woman, a quality that cost her her life. She took time to listen to you and find ways to help you. 

'You developed a crush on her that developed into a obsession. What led to you kill her was a very human cocktail of emotions: desire, jealousy, frustration and anger. 

'As a result of your callous action many people have been affected. The impact on her family and friends is devastating. 

'I take into account that you have been diagnosed as suffering from depression following the death of your father. I accept it played some part in these events no doubt causing you to become obsessed.'

Browning drew up a plan to kill his boss at the payroll department at the University of Brighton, buying a 10cm lock knife and shotgun with which he intended to kill himself.  

An uneaten meal of curry and wine was found at the house where Ms Howell was killed

An uneaten meal of curry and wine was found at the house where Ms Howell was killed

Browning attacked his boss Jillian Howell, who he has accused of bullying him, but had also become obsessed with

Browning (right) attacked Ms Howell (left), who he had accused of bullying him

Browning used this knife to stab Ms Howell 15 times in the chest, neck and abdomen

Browning used this knife to stab Ms Howell 15 times in the chest, neck and abdomen

He also posted a series of suicide letters claiming he could no longer put up with the intense workplace bullying. 

He arrived at her home on the evening of October 25 with flowers and a bottle of wine and the meal the pair chatted. 

The court heard that around 10.30pm she told Browning he ought to think about leaving and going home. 

He told the court: 'I said: 'I can't go home.', She said: 'Why?', I said: 'Because I've posted my suicide notes'.' 

He said Miss Howell told him she was going to take him to hospital and went to get her trainers and jacket and as she bent to tie her shoelaces he stabbed her. 

Browning said: 'I was behind her. I felt this whoosh feeling come over. I pulled the knife out and stabbed her in the back. 

'She fell towards the sofa and as I stabbed her in the throat once she grabbed knife with her hand and screamed: 'You b*****d'. I said: 'Sorry Jill this is what mental health does to you'.' 

Afterwards he daubed other messages around the house in spray paint in which he blamed Sean McDonald - the former mayor of Worthing - who he mistakenly believed was in a relationship with Miss Howell.  

Police footage shows the moment Browning walked into a police station and confessed

Police footage shows the moment Browning walked into a police station and confessed

Ms Howell, 46, was Browning's boss at the payroll department, having been employed in 2015 to improve an unproductive department.

She told friends she was frustrated by Browning, who had worked there since 1989, and another male colleague who were resistant to changes she wished to bring in.

Killer's family say mental illness was to blame for murder

In statement made after the court's verdict yesterday, Browning's family said: 'We would like to offer our condolences to the family and friends of Jillian Howell.

'Depression is a devastating mental illness, and David was desperately affected by the traumatic death of his father causing him to react so dramatically out of character. 

'We love David and his family will always stand by and support him.'

Staff said Miss Howell had picked on Browning, shouted at him and 'belittled' him in front of colleagues.

But she had also offered to help him because he was suffering from stress and anxiety following the death of his father.

His plea for help is understood to have been especially poignant to the Samaritans volunteer, who herself suffered depression in the wake of her own father's death just a few years before. 

Elaine Rowe, one of seven employees in the payroll unit, said if Browning and Miss Howell disagreed there could be fireworks.

She said: 'If they did not agree she would not take that very well and shout, intimidate or be very rude. It was in front of the whole finance office. It happened quite often, every week, every other week.' 

But Miss Howell was also mindful Browning was suffering from depression and she felt if she offered help and understanding it might ease work tensions.

In June she invited him out for drinks after work and the pair went to the Signalman pub in Ditchling Rise in Brighton.

Police found a note Browning had written wrongly implicating another man in the murder

Police found a note Browning had written wrongly implicating another man in the murder

Browning posted this picture, showing a 'bully' being stabbed, after he carried out the attack

Browning posted this picture, showing a 'bully' being stabbed, after he carried out the attack

Browning was grateful for the support and texted her after saying: 'I adore you personally and professionally. I am there for you anytime Dave x.'

But over the coming weeks his condition worsened and he confessed to having suicidal thoughts.

Killer bought gun despite mental health problems 

Despite suffering severe anxiety, depression and having suicidal thoughts, David Browning found it easy to get a firearms licence and buy a lethal 12-gauge shotgun and cartridges.

Under law, police interview any applicant for a firearms licence and also check criminal records and medical history before making a decision on whether to issue one. 

Browning was asked whether he was suffering suicidal thoughts, stress, depression, anxiety, dementia or any other type of mental illness to which he replied: 'No.'

He then provided police with his GP details so officers could contact them to double check whether they had any concerns.

Browning was granted a five year firearms licence on July 30 which would have expired in 2022.

Shortly afterwards he bought a 12-gauge shotgun, 50 shotgun cartridges and a lock knife later used in the murder, paying around £1,000 in cash.

Despite being referred to the University of Brighton's occupational health team in September it seems no alert or warning was issued to the authorities. 

Concerned, Miss Howell told friends she was going to invite him round to her house for a meal to 'cheer him up.'

Claire Taylor, a close friend, was concerned by this step and

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