Former Suffolk councillor had threatened to kill wife before, court hears

Stephen Searle Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Stephen Searle Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A former Stowmarket councillor accused of murdering his wife after she discovered he was having an affair allegedly threatened to kill her several weeks before her death, a court has heard.

Stephen Searle allegedly told his wife Anne: “ I’ll kill you. I will” and she had replied: “You wouldn’t do that you are a weak man. You wouldn’t be able to do it.”

In a statement read to Ipswich Crown Court today Victoria Searle, who is married to the couple’s son Stevie Searle, said her mother-in-law had turned up at her flat in late October or early November last year and said she thought her husband was having an affair with their son Gary’s partner Anastasia Pomiateeva.

Victoria Searle said Mrs Searle had then told her about the conversation she had with her husband in which he threatened to kill her but she got the impression her mother-in-law didn’t think he would carry out the threat.

She also recalled Anne Searle saying that on another occasion her husband had tried to push her down the stairs and the police had been called.

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In the statement Victoria Searle said that when she visited Stephen and Anne Searle on Boxing Day last year - four days before Mrs Searle’s death - Mrs Searle said she and her husband had been arguing every night.

She said that Mrs Searle said her husband had wanted to talk about his affair but she didn’t because she wanted to move on.

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Giving evidence today (Tuesday) Sally Cutting, a former work colleague of Mrs Searle, said she had seen bruises on her arms several months before her death.

Mrs Cutting said Mrs Searle told her in June last year that the bruises on the back of her forearms were caused by her husband taking hold of her arms during a fight.

Mrs Cutting also told the court that when she saw Mrs Searle after Christmas last year she told her that she had bought her husband an expensive gift and he had only bought her a £14 hat and scarf set from ASDA.

She said Mrs Searle also told her that she and her husband had planned to have Christmas lunch together but he had put the meat and all the trimmings in the bin.

Mrs Cutting said Mrs Searle also told her that she had come to the conclusion that her husband thought he was “worthless” as he was no longer a councillor.

The court has heard that Searle dialled 999 on December 30 last year and admitted killing his wife by suffocating her.

It is alleged that Searle murdered his 62-year-old wife after she discovered he was having an affair with their daughter-in-law Anastasia Pomiateeva.

The court heard that as a former Royal Marine Searle was trained in unarmed combat and probably used a particular way of killing someone called a “chokehold” to kill his wife.

“It’s the prosecution case the killing of his wife was done quite deliberately by him strangling her to death. Why did he do it? The prosecution say this alleged murder had its roots firmly in the discovery by Mrs Searle that the defendant had been having an affair with their daughter-in-law,” said Andrew Jackson, prosecuting.

He said Mrs Searle had discovered her husband’s infidelity with their 39-year-old daughter-in-law in June last year and this had put considerable strain on their marriage of 45 years.

“The prosecution say on that Saturday night there had probably been another row between them and in anger the defendant strangled his wife to death,” said Mr Jackson.

The court heard that Searle had been employed as a manager at Solar Bowl in Sproughton Road, Ipswich, and Miss Pomiateeva and Searle’s son Gary had also worked there.

In March 2017 Searle had allegedly made it plain to Miss Pomiateeva, who was in a relationship with his son Gary, that he had a sexual interest in her.

On one occasion Searle, who was a local councillor, invited her to his office at Suffolk County Council and told Miss Pomiateeva that he hadn’t had sex with his wife for a long time.

He asked her if she was happy with Gary and then asked if she would like to “make him happy.”

Miss Pomiateeva, who was “to all intents and purposes” Searle’s daughter-in-law, made her excuses and left but Searle persisted and in April 2017 they started a sexual relationship, said Mr Jackson.

During the relationship Searle and Miss Pomiateeva exchanged explicit pictures and it was as a result of these that Mrs Searle found out about the affair, said Mr Jackson.

Searle, 64, of The Brickfields, Stowmarket, has denied murdering his wife on December 30 last year.

The court heard that after his arrest he said he and his wife had a row during which she had tried to stab him in the stomach with a steak knife.

He had grabbed the knife and they had stumbled over. “I was in fear for my life and during the struggle this terrible accident happened.”

The trial continues.

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