Ex of ‘monster’ murderer who escaped from prison reveals decade of ‘living hell’

A woman who suffered violent beatings for over ten years at the hands of her abusive partner has spoken about her years of ‘living hell’.

Debbie McLaughlin, 48, says she feared for her life after discovering ‘monster’ John Potter had gone on the run after absconding from jail.

Mum-of-three Debbie says she was subjected to repeated violent attacks, sometimes in front of her children, during the time they lived together, Chronicle Live reports .

Now after Potter has had his sentence extended after fleeing prison, the grandmother has told of her fears that Potter could have returned to Newcastle .

Debbie said: “He would be lovely one minute and a monster the next. He’s nearly killed me.

“He’s an evil sadistic man. I know exactly what he’s capable of.”

Debbie met Potter in 1996 when she was visiting a friend in prison.

The pair hit it off straight away and began exchanging letters, although the convict would never fully reveal what he had been inside for.

Potter moved into the home Debbie shared with her three children, in Newcastle, following his release.

But it wasn’t long before Debbie saw his true colours.

And the 48-year-old said she was subjected to regular beatings at the hands of the bullying brute.

“He was lovely at first,” said Debbie, whose name is tattooed on Potter’s neck. “But in weeks he was hitting me.

“He was really, really awful. I put up with domestic violence for more than 10 years,” she said.

“He was alright with the kids, but awful to me, and any other women he was with. It got that scary I was frightened to leave and frightened to stay.

“He was very manipulative. You don’t realise how hard it is until you are in that situation. In the end I just had to get out for the sake of my children.”

During one of Potter’s most violent attacks he attacked Debbie with a claw hammer while her eight-year-old daughter was in the house.

“He smashed my head in with a claw hammer. I was unconscious on the floor and my daughter had to squeeze out the door to get the police,” she said.

“I put up with it on and off for 10 years. He was very jealous and cruel. I did love him, but in the end I just had to get out for the sake of my children.”

Debbie finally left Potter for good in 2006. Just 18 months later she heard that her ex had been arrested for murdering his friend John Hudson in a frenzied knife attack.

He pleaded guilty to murder and was jailed for life.

“I did think it could have been me,” said Debbie. “He was a ticking time bomb. I do feel like I have had a lucky escape."


Potter, 52, was being held at HMP Sudbury, a category D ‘open’ prison when he absconded last month.

Police said it was possible he could have tried to return to the North East.

But days later Derbyshire Police confirmed that he had been found.

Potter has now had an extra year added to his minimum jail term after pleading guilty to one count of escaping from lawful custody.

Sentencing him, Judge Robert Egbuna said: “You had been convicted of murder and you know how serious that is and then you escaped.

“It is a matter for the parole board when they choose to release you.”

He was convicted of murder at Newcastle Crown Court in 2008 after admitting stabbing a dad-of-two to death in a frenzied attack during a drinking session.

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