Former Stowmarket councillor guilty of murdering wife
PUBLISHED: 21:31 17 July 2018 | UPDATED: 21:31 17 July 2018
A former UKIP councillor from Stowmarket will be sentenced tomorrow after being convicted of murdering his wife.
Former Royal Marine Stephen Searle was trained in unarmed combat and throttled his 62-year-old wife Anne in December last year, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Searle, 64, of Brickfields, Stowmarket, denied murdering his wife of 45 years but was convicted by a jury after three and a half hours of deliberations following a six-day trial.
And in a statement outside court after the trial, Searle’s youngest son Stevie described the ordeal of having to organise his mother Anne’s funeral and the effect her murder had on his relationship with his two brothers, family and friends.
“Losing my mum has destroyed me. It’s killed me inside. I feel completely broken and it’s going to take a very long time to fix me, if I can ever be fixed,” he said.
During the trial, the court heard that Searle made a telephone call to Suffolk police at 10.19pm on December 30 last year and told the call handler: “I’ve just killed my wife.”
Asked how he killed her he said he said he had suffocated her an hour earlier, said Andrew Jackson, prosecuting.
He claimed that Searle’s delay in reporting his wife’s death gave him time to “concoct an explanation to hide the truth”.
After his arrest Searle told police: “I’ve been a very naughty boy” and “everyone has their breaking point”.
“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,” he said.
The court heard that Mrs Searle had discovered her husband’s infidelity with their daughter-in-law Anastasia Pomiateeva 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 manager of Solar Bowl in Sproughton Road, Ipswich and Miss Pomiateeva and Searle’s son Gary had also worked there.
Miss Pomiateeva and Searle had started a sexual relationship in April 2017 during which they had exchanged messages and explicit pictures. It was Mrs Searle’s finding of some of that material that led to her discovery of the affair.
A post-mortem examination found that Mrs Searle died as result of compression to her neck and she was also found to have extensive bruising to her arms and wrists consistent with gripping.
Searle was found to have three pinprick marks to his stomach, where he claimed his wife had tried to stab him and a cut on his hand.
The court heard that on Christmas Day, Mrs Searle posted a message on Facebook which said: “Happy Christmas to you all. Hope you are doing well and have a great day. I hope I will still be her in 2018. We will see.”
Giving evidence, Searle denied deliberately killing his wife and claimed he had been acting in self-defence after she attacked him with a knife.
He said there had been a violent struggle as he tried to disarm her during which they had fallen to the floor with him landing on top of her.
He accepted that as a Royal Marine he had been trained in unarmed combat but denied intentionally killing his wife.
He said he did not remember using any degree of force and was shocked when he realised she was dead.