Malawian appears in UK for murdering his wife

Phillip Dafter, a Malawian based in English city of Northampton has appeared in court where he has been charged with murdering his wife Diana.

According to an account of the Northampton Chronicle, Dafter told the court that the fatal stabbing of his wife in kitchen of Northampton home was ’moment of madness’, trial hears

The court heard that the defendant stabbed his wife 17 times before buying knives from a supermarket to hurt himself.

He is accused of murdering his wife at their family home in Northampton said he had been “driven to it” following an argument about their car’s MOT and described it as a “moment of madness,” a trial has heard.

Phillip, aged 32, appeared at Northampton Crown Court on Wednesday, April 12 for the first day of his trial after the body of his wife, 36-year-old Diana Dafter, was discovered at their top-floor flat in Lawrence Court on October 7, 2022.

The court heard that Dafter and Diana were both born in Malawi and, after finishing school in Africa, they moved to the UK, where they met, formed a relationship, got married and settled down in Northampton.

Dafter had spent some time in the British Army and, following his discharge, became a bus driver and then a HGV driver.

Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, said: “To the outside world everything would have appeared unremarkable about the family, however, behind the scenes things were very different.”

The court heard that, in the months prior to Diana’s violent end, the couple’s marriage had begun to deteriorate as Dafter became increasingly depressed and dissatisfied with family life.

Mr Aspden told the court that the atmosphere of resentment worsened when Diana discovered that her husband had been texting a younger woman in Malawi. She accused Dafter of betraying her and brought up previous infidelities.

By September 2022, the Dafters were on the verge of divorce – the court heard.

“It was against this troubled background that Mr Dafter murdered his wife,” Mr Aspden said.

CCTV footage was shown to the court of Diana leaving and returning to her flat on the morning of Friday, October 7 – this was the last time she was seen alive.

Mr Aspden told the court that it was upon Diana’s return when “all the resentment and bitterness boiled over” and Dafter stabbed his wife repeatedly with a knife so hard that the blade had broken off from the handle.

A post mortem examination carried out on Diana’s body two days later at the Leicester Royal Infirmary found that Diana died from a single stab wound to the heart.

She had a total of 17 stab wounds and cuts on her fingers that suggested she tried to save herself by pushing the knife away during the attack, the court heard.

At this point of the hearing, Dafter began to weep in the dock, holding a tissue to his face as his shoulders began to shake.

“This must have been a terrifying final ordeal for that woman,” said Mr Aspden.

The court heard that at about 9.20am, Dafter left the house and began walking to his car when he bumped into a neighbour and they exchanged pleasantries. The neighbour described Dafter to police as being his “normal, happy, smiley self.”

CCTV footage shown to jurors showed Dafter driving his Range Rover to the nearby ASDA store in Thornton Road and then purchasing a set of kitchen knives.

The supermarket assistant who served Dafter, giving evidence in court, described Dafter as “quite a nice chap” and “very pleasant.”

CCTV footage showed Dafter returning to his flat in Lawrence Court, where Diana still lay dead. After consuming some whiskey, Dafter stabbed himself several times in the abdomen with one of the knives he purchased – the court heard.

More CCTV footage showed Dafter leaving his home for a second time carrying a plastic bag with a bottle of whiskey, where he got into his other car – a Volvo – and drove to Northampton Railway Station.

As he bought a ticket to London Euston, CCTV footage showed him squatting down on his haunches – likely as a result of his self inflicted stab wounds.

The court heard that he caught the 10.39am train to London Euston and, during the journey, he sent out a group WhatsApp message saying: “Boys and D. Going to jail. I have killed Diana Dafter today.” He then phoned his cousin, who was unaware of what had happened, and asked to urgently see him.

The train pulled into Euston at around 11.31am, the court heard. However, Dafter stayed in the train for a further 10 minutes after the other commuters had left.

A conductor came along to help Dafter, who was unsteady on his feet having consumed more whiskey, onto the platform and Dafter told him he wanted to speak to the police. When the conductor asked him why, Dafter replied: “I am evil and a bad man,” the court heard.

The court heard that Dafter then told British Transport Police that he had killed his wife. He took out his driving licence, pointed to his address and indicated that was where he had done it.

Mr Aspden said Dafter was taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington for his life threatening self inflicted stab wounds. No vital organs had been damaged and no major blood vessels had been ruptured. During his stay, Dafter made further unsolicited admissions to killing his wife to medical staff and a police guard, the court heard.

Meanwhile, the British Transport Police got in touch with Northamptonshire Police to explain what had happened and a team of officers forced entry to Dafter’s flat at around midday, where they discovered Diana’s body in the kitchen with a kitchen knife handle by her side.

She was cold to the touch and it was too late to do anything for her, the court heard. She was officially pronounced dead at 12.35pm.

On October 11 2022, Dafter was arrested on suspicion of Diana’s murder. A psychiatrist conducted a mental health assessment – during which, Dafter told him he knew what he had done and he had been driven to it by his wife “going on and on” at him, the court heard.

Dafter described killing his wife as “a moment of madness that I will have to live with for the rest of my life,” Mr Aspden told the court.

The psychiatrist said Dafter explained he had grown increasingly depressed and anxious and had been prescribed antidepressants in the past. He said that he and his wife had argued that morning over their car’s MOT and he recalled Diana telling him that she would forgive him as he attacked her.

On October 14, Dafter gave two no comment interviews to police and he was charged with Diana’s murder.

The court heard that David Nathan, defending Dafter, will seek to argue loss of control and diminished responsibility in order to reduce the charge of murder to one of manslaughter.

Mr Aspden described the killing as “needless and totally unjustifiable.”

More to follow as the trial unfolds.

Reported in full by Northampton Chronicle and Echo newspaper 

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