A UNIVERSITY worker stabbed his boss 15 times after becoming obsessed with her as she tried to help him overcome the death of his father, a court was told.

Samaritans volunteer Jillian Howell was stabbed to death in her home by David Browning who worked under her in the payroll department at the University of Brighton.

After killing her, Browning phoned the Samaritans and told a helpline volunteer “I have done something really, really bad”.

He handed himself in to police and said in a matter of fact tone: “I have murdered someone.

“The murder weapon is in my top pocket.”

A jury trying Browning, 51, of Willow Drive, Seaford, for murder was told he had initially disagreed with Ms Browning’s management style.

But the pair later formed a close relationship after Ms Howell tried to help him deal with depression and the loss of his father.

However, Browning became “controlling, possessive and jealous,” when it appeared the relationship was not going to go any further, Alan Gardner for the prosecution said.

Browning bought a shotgun and went to Ms Howell’s home for dinner on October 2.

Wearing a bandana over his face he stabbed her once in the back, eight times in the neck and six times in the front.

He then scrawled the word “bully” in marker pen across her forehead, before handing himself in at Brighton’s John Street police station.

Mr Gardner said: “Just after 6am on October 26 the defendant called the Sussex Police emergency line.

“He told the operator he was outside John Street police station with a shotgun and intended to commit suicide.

“He said to officers ‘I have murdered someone and the murder weapon is in my top right hand pocket’.

“He said to officers, ‘in a nutshell I have killed my boss’.

“He told officers they would find her body at her home address in Sandgate Road.”

Mr Gardner told the jury at Hove Crown Court that Browning had formed an “intense attachment” to Ms Howell.

Browning claims his depression led him to kill Ms Howell while suffering a brain abnormality and he had pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility

However the prosecution insist the murder was cold, calculated and planned in advance.

Mr Gardner said: “This was a premeditated, cold blooded murder of a woman in her home by a man she trusted as a colleague and a friend.

“A man she was trying to counsel since the sad loss of his father.

“He killed her out of anger rather than an uncontrollable urge caused by his depression.

“He planned to kill her several weeks before and made careful arrangements to carry it out.”

In an account later given to a psychiatrist, Browning said he had gone to Ms Howell’s home for a curry on the evening of October 25.

“He said he knew he would have to kill her on that visit,” Mr Gardner told the court.

“He accepted that he had a choice.

“He described leaving the shotgun and a change of clothes in a rental van outside and went in to her house with the knife.

“When Miss Howell told him it was time to go home he told her he had posted suicide notes.

“Jillian Howell’s response was to tell him he needed to go to hospital.

He described her going to get her trainers and saying she would get him to hospital.

“He told [one psychiatrist] that was the trigger.

“He said he would be sectioned and it would be the end of his life

“She bent down to tie her shoe laces. He pulled the knife out of his pocket and stabbed her in the back.

“He remembered stabbing her six times to the neck and chest.

”Then he remembered thinking ‘what have I done’.

“He said it was between 11pm and midnight.

“Then he described sitting in a chair in her lounge for one to two hours before deciding it was time to kill himself.

“He went out to the van to get the shotgun and returned to the house.

“He said he changed his clothes, washed his hands and wrote a note to the police and wrote messages on the walls of her house.”

Browning left graffiti across the house blaming Ms Howell’s friend Sean McDonald for her killing.

Browning then called the Samaritans, the jury heard, and told a volunteer: “I have done something really bad.”

He told the volunteer he would like to talk to her then he would decide whether to kill himself or whether to hand himself in to the police.

“The volunteer asked him what he had done.

“He said he had stabbed his boss.

“He said it was “really really bad” but she had been bullying him and he couldn’t take it any more.

“He said ‘I was just about to leave when she said something and I just lost it.”

In a letter to colleagues at work he said: “Of course this was the wrong thing to do.

I was fed up with living as her slave rather than her colleague.”

Browning denies murder. The trial continues.


1989: David Browning starts working at the University of Brighton’s payroll department. 

2015: Jillian Howell takes over the department becoming Browning’s boss. 

June  2017: David Browning and Ms Howell go for  drink at the Signalman pub. 

Ms Howell tells friend Russell Nell, who she knows through her work for the Samaritans, about concerns she has about a colleague at work. She said “David is suicidal and struggling”. 

Mid July: They make arrangements for a further drink. 

Aug 2: Browning texts Ms Howell to say “what a wonderful lady you are.” 

Aug 3: Ms Howell invites Browning for dinner. He  later texts to thank her adding “I think you realise how much you mean to me as a friend.” 

July: Browning applies for shotgun licence. 

August: He buys a gun cabinet from a shop in Brighton telling staff he wanted to start clay pigeon shooting. 

September: Browning goes on holiday with wife Valerie and grown-up children Deborah and Barry. 

Ms Howell tells Mr Nell David told her he had a plan in mind for his suicide. She also tells her nephew Adam Kish about a man at work who was suicidal but she thought a lot of.

October 24: Browning hires a rental van from Choices. He later told psychiatrists he wanted it to conceal the shotgun. 

October 25: Ms Howell’s diary includes an entry marked ”Dave Dinner”. 

7.25pm: Browning texts to say he is on way to Sandgate Road. 

11pm to midnight: Browning stabs Ms Howell 15 times. 

October 26 4.25am: Browning Googles “suicide with shotgun” then posts a picture  on Facebook with the words “stand up to bullies – then kill them”. He spends more than hour on phone to  Samaritans. 

5.45am: He heads to John Street police station. 

6.08am: He calls 999 to say he is outside with a shotgun.

6.30am: Officers attend Sandgate Road and find Ms Howell’s body in the lounge.