Trial of former UKIP councillor to begin following wife’s death

Forensics investigate the scene in The Brickfields, Stowmarket. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Forensics investigate the scene in The Brickfields, Stowmarket. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A Suffolk man accused of killing his wife is due to stand trial this week.

Stephen Searle, a former UKIP councillor, was charged with the murder of his wife after she was found dead in Stowmarket at the end of last year.

Suffolk police arrested 64-year-old Stephen Searle following the death of his wife Anne, 62, at an address in The Brickfields.

Officers were called at about 10.30pm on Saturday, December 30, to find a woman unresponsive.

Paramedics from the East of England Ambulance Service attended, but the woman was declared dead at the scene. She was later formally identified as Anne Searle.

Her husband, who has been in custody since his arrest, is due to appear at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday morning.

The trial is listed to begin before The Honourable Mr Justice Green from 10.30am and has been estimated to last seven days.

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Searle, who lived at the same address, was charged on January 2 after police gained a 12-hour custody extension following his arrest.

He made his first appearance in court before magistrates in Ipswich – via video link from Bury St Edmunds Police Investigation Centre – on the morning of Tuesday, January 2, and was remanded in custody.

The following day, at a preliminary hearing, prosecutor Andrew Jackson told Ipswich Crown Court that a postmortem examination had been carried out, with sustained compression of the neck being given as the cause of death. However, he told the court, further work needed to be carried out.

On February 21, an inquest was opened into the death of Mrs Searle, also known as Jessie, but coroner Nigel Parsley suspended the hearing pending the trial – adjourning it to a date to be fixed.

Searle stood for the UKIP party in the Suffolk County Council elections, securing a seat for Stowmarket South in May 2013.

His election material said he was a former Royal Marine commando.

In May last year, he stood again but lost to Conservative Mid Suffolk council leader Nick Gowrley.

He also ran as a UKIP candidate for the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich seat in a bid to become an MP, but finished last of the five candidates, including Conservative MP Dan Poulter, who retained the seat.

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