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"You have brought grief and distress untold upon your family," judge tells former Stowmarket councillor who murdered wife

PUBLISHED: 12:17 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:20 18 July 2018

Stephen Searle Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Stephen Searle Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

A former Suffolk UKIP councillor who murdered his wife during a row about his affair with their daughter-in-law has been jailed for life.

Former Royal Marine Stephen Searle will have to serve a minimum of 14 years of the sentence before he can be considered for release by the parole board.

Sentencing him at Ipswich Crown Court today Mr Justice Green told Searle, who killed his wife at their Stowmarket home: “By your own hands you have brought grief and distress untold upon your family.

“You have deprived your children of the mother that they loved. You have deprived your grandchildren of their grandmother and you have deprived Anne of the remaining years of her life.

“I have listened with great care to the victim statement prepared by your son Stephen, which has been read to the court. He spoke of the quite awful impact which his mum’s death has had upon him and he told the court that not only has he lost his mum but has also, in effect, lost you his dad.

“I think it must go without saying that your actions have caused devastating waves of pain and anguish to crash through your entire family. No sentence that I impose can ever undo that suffering.

Searle, 64, of Brickfields, Stowmarket, denied murdering his wife but was convicted by a jury after a six day trial.

During the trial the court heard that Searle, who has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, made a telephone call to Suffolk police at 10.19pm on December 30 last year and told the call handler he had killed his wife by suffocating her.

After his arrest he told officers: “I’ve been a very naughty boy” and “everyone has their breaking point.”

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 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 and it was Mrs Searle’s finding of some of that material that led to her discovery of the affair.

The court heard that as a former Royal Marine Searle was trained in unarmed combat and had “probably” used a “chokehold” to kill his wife.

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 told the court he had used his right hand to “pin” her down and demonstrated how he had used an open hand across the middle of the front of her neck.

He said he didn’t remember using any degree of force.

In his sentencing remarks Mr Justice Green said he was sure that on December 30 a row broke out between Searle and his wife about his infidelity with his daughter-in-law Anastasia Pomiateeva.

“Anne has not been able to come to court to describe to us what really happened. We have only your version and the jury has rejected it. We will not now find out what the truth is.”

Mr Justice Green said he couldn’t be sure Searle had used a chokehold to strangle his wife and would therefore sentence him on the basis that he killed her when he was face to face with her.

He said he would also sentence him on the basis that the killing was unpremeditated and that it was possible that his wife had come at him with a knife and she had fallen backwards during a struggle.

He said although Searle had contacted the police and admitted killing his wife he had put his family through the “turmoil and pain” of having to attend the trial.

The judge also said that Searle had no relevant convictions and had also played a useful role through his contribution to the Royal Marine cadets.

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