A former Ukip councillor who strangled his wife to death months after she discovered he had an affair with their son’s partner has been sentenced to spend at least 14 years in prison.
Ex-Royal Marine Stephen Searle, 64, said his 62-year-old wife Anne Searle attacked him with a knife at their home in Stowmarket, Suffolk, and he was defending himself, but jurors at Ipswich Crown Court took three-and-a-half hours to find him guilty of her murder.
The Honourable Mr Justice Green, jailing Searle to for life with a minimum term of 14 years, said: “Your actions have caused devastating waves of pain and anguish to crash through your entire family.”
Searle, who had been married for 45 years, looked straight ahead and showed no reaction as his fate was read out.
Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said Searle had probably placed his wife in a choke hold that he had knowledge of from his military training.
He had told the six-day trial that the Searles’ marriage had been under strain since Mrs Searle discovered her husband’s affair with their son Gary’s partner, Anastasia Pomiateeva, who was mother to at least one of their grandchildren, around June 2017.
In a 999 call made on December 30 last year and played to jurors, Searle told police: “I’ve just killed my wife.”
He told the court he had not tried to call an ambulance and had “just sat there like a bloody idiot”.
Officers attended their home in Stowmarket within minutes of the call made at 10.19pm and found Mrs Searle dead.
In bodycam footage recorded by the arresting officers, Searle is heard to say “I’ve been a very naughty boy” and “everyone has their breaking point”.
Mr Jackson said there had “probably been yet another row between the two of them and in anger the defendant strangled his wife to death”.
A post-mortem examination recorded that Mrs Searle died of compression of the neck.
Forensic pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift said Mrs Searle would have lost consciousness after about eight to 15 seconds of pressure being applied to her neck, and death required further sustained pressure for a period of minutes.
In a victim impact statement one of Searle’s three sons, Stevie Searle, said: “Not only have I lost my mum, but because of what he’s done I’ve lost my dad too.”