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  1. ITV Report

Former UKIP councillor Stephen Searle 'didn't mean to kill his wife' during heated argument

  • Video report by ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer

The trial of a former UKIP councillor accused of murdering his wife has told a court he didn't mean to deliberately kill her.

Stephen Searle, 64, said he and his wife Anne had an alcohol-fuelled row at their home in Stowmarket on December 30 about his affair with their son's partner.

On the night Anne died, he claimed she attacked him with a steak knife after she found messages on his mobile phone and he acted in self-defence.

Mr Seale admitted the pair had been drinking since 3pm.

Describing the incident to the jury at Ipswich Crown Court, Mr Searle said:

"It was crazy, I was grabbing, trying to find the knife. She was struggling frantically, she was a very strong woman, I couldn’t hold her down," he told the court.

Anne Searle was found dead in Stowmarket last December. Credit: ITV News Anglia

He said that he put his hand around her neck in what the prosecution described as a "chokehold" - a technique learnt from his time in the Royal Marines.

He maintained the hold until Anne stopped struggling, at which point he then went into the conservatory to have a cigarette and a beer - thinking that Anne had gone to bed.

Mr Searle told the jury that it was only when he came back into the room that he realised that "things weren't good at all."

“I held her hand, she was just limp," he said.

"It just didn’t make sense, I was calling her name, I couldn’t understand why.... I thought, she’s gone.”

When questioned by Steven Dyble, his defence counsel in court, Mr Searle said:

“Did you intend to kill your wife?

“No.”

“Of 45 years standing?”

“No sir, I didn’t.”

“Did you intend to cause her serious harm?”

“No."

Mr Searle denies the charge of murder. The trial continues.