Former UKIP councillor and parliamentary candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich charged with wife’s murder

Stephen Searle, UKIP, has won the Stowmarket South division in the county council elections
Stephen Searle, UKIP, has won the Stowmarket South division in the county council elections

A former Royal Marine and UKIP county councillor appeared in court this morning charged with the murder of his wife.

Stephen Searle, 64, is accused of killing 62-year-old wife Anne who died at their family home in Stowmarket, on Saturday night.

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Mr Searle also unsuccessfully stood as a parliamentary candidate for UKIP for the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency in the 2017 General Election.

Emergency services were called to the scene at around 10.20pm, but the grandmother was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly after they arrived.

Mother-of-three Mrs Searle suffered a cardiac arrest and a post-mortem carried out on Sunday requires further tests to determine her cause of death.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said today: “The victim has been formally identified as Anne Searle, aged 62, of The Brickfields, Stowmarket.

“64-year-old Stephen Searle, of the same address, was charged with murder in the early hours of Tuesday 2 January.

“The accused and victim were husband and wife.”

Friends of Mrs Searle paid tribute to her, describing her as ‘the most bright beautiful sweet person you could have ever known’.

Tommie Marie Stickel, who knew her for around 15 years, said: “All her kids and grandkids were her life.

“She was the most bright beautiful sweet person you could have ever known.

“I am in shock.”

Angela Burrows, 45, added: “I can’t believe she died.

“I knew their sons and she’s got grandchildren as well, nice people.”

Searle is a former Royal Marines commando who also sold poppies for the British Legion.

He was elected as a UKIP county councillor for the Stowmarket South division on Suffolk County Council in 2013 but lost his seat earlier this year.

Speaking at the time of his election, he said: “It’s superb to be fighting again for my country, and my people.”

The couple ran the Stag Tavern pub, in Stowmarket, before they sold it in 1992.

Searle, who had recently been employed as a meter reader, appeared at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court today.

He spoke only to confirm his name, address and nationality.

Presiding magistrate Anne Walker ordered that Searle be remanded in custody and appear at Ipswich Crown Court tomorrow (Wednesday, January 3).