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  1. ITV Report

Michael Stirling pleads guilty to murdering midwife Samantha Eastwood after 'longstanding affair'

A 32-year-old man has admitted murdering midwife Samantha Eastwood in an "intense rage" before panicking and burying her body, a court heard.

Michael Stirling, 32, pleaded guilty at Northampton Crown Court to murdering Ms Eastwood who was found buried in a shallow grave in Staffordshire a week after being reported missing.

His defence barrister, Charles Miskin QC, said that Stirling and Ms Eastwood had been having a "longstanding" affair and he killed her in a "struggle" during an argument.

28-year-old Samantha Eastwood was reported missing in August. Credit: PA/Police

Mr Miskin said that on the afternoon of the killing "various things were said" between the two, "which led to him becoming very angry".

Mr Miskin added: "After a struggle and while she was on the floor, he put his hands over her throat, her mouth and nose, and as a result of that she died.

"During his intense rage, he originally intended to cause her really serious bodily harm, but matters escalated and he carried out the intention to kill her."

ITV News correspondent Ben Chapman was at Northampton Crown Court:

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Mr Miskin said it was not a "pre-meditated act" adding: "The context of the killing was a background of growing tension arising from a longstanding, but not particularly intense affair."

He said: "He panicked afterwards and buried her in an area of which he had some knowledge.

"He entirely accepts that he tried, wholly dishonestly, to mislead others in the afternoon after the killing.

"He is absolutely horrified about what happened and is deeply sorry, not for himself, but for all the others who are victims of this crime."

  • Ms Eastwood was last seen leaving work on July 27.

Ms Eastwood was reported missing at the end of July and was last seen leaving work at Royal Stoke Hospital at 7.45am on Friday July 27.

Her body was discovered eight days later in a rural area near Caverswall, Staffordshire, in August, wrapped in a duvet and with tape around her eyes and face.

Stirling, the brother-in-law of the victim's ex-fiance John Peake, appeared via video link to enter a plea of guilty to murder, as Ms Eastwood's mother and sister watched from the public gallery.

The defendant, the court also heard, had "never been in any sort of trouble", prior to murdering Ms Eastwood.

Stirling, of Gratton Road, Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, admitted killing the victim between July 26 and August 5 at Baddeley Green, in Stoke.

The court heard Michael Stirling had a history of mental health problems. Credit: Staffordshire Police

Jonas Hankin QC, prosecuting, said that two days before the murder Stirling had researched methods on how to "kill oneself".

He added: "There were searches made on a laptop, two days before the killing.

"The subject matter appears to relate to research into methods by which one might kill oneself, in particular using carbon monoxide, or involving suffocation and involving ingestion of poison, specifically anti-freeze."

Mr Hankin added Stirling had a "history of mental health problems" as recently as 2015, and asked for permission through the court, from the defendant, to access his medical records.

He was remanded in custody and is due to appear at Stafford Crown Court on December 3 for sentencing.