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Police granted extra time to question suspect - believed to be former UKIP councillor Stephen Searle - in connection with woman’s murder

PUBLISHED: 18:00 31 December 2017 | UPDATED: 09:33 01 January 2018

The scene in The Brickfields, Stowmarket, where a woman died on Saturday night. Inset, former UKIP county councillor Stephen Searle who has been charged with his wife's murder. Picture: ARCHANT

The scene in The Brickfields, Stowmarket, where a woman died on Saturday night. Inset, former UKIP county councillor Stephen Searle who has been charged with his wife's murder. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

A former UKIP county councillor and parliamentary candidate is understood to have been arrested on suspicion of killing his wife in Stowmarket.

UKIP councillor Stephen Searle after winning the Stowmarket South seat UKIP councillor Stephen Searle after winning the Stowmarket South seat

Stephen Searle, who represented Stowmarket South on Suffolk County Council and ran for election as an MP in May, is believed to have been questioned in connection with the murder of a woman at an address in The Brickfields.

Police launched a murder investigation after the woman, who was in her 60s, was found unresponsive at 10.20pm on Saturday.

Paramedics attended and treated a woman in cardiac arrest.

Despite the best efforts of medics, the woman was declared dead at the scene.

A police cordon at the property in The Brickfields, Stowmarket, where a woman died on Saturday night. Picture: TOM POTTER A police cordon at the property in The Brickfields, Stowmarket, where a woman died on Saturday night. Picture: TOM POTTER

A 64-year-old man, understood to be former Royal Marine commando Mr Searle – a resident of the same address – was arrested at the scene shortly after the arrival of police.

He was taken for questioning to Bury St Edmunds police investigation centre.

Suffolk Constabulary said the woman’s death was being treated as suspicious.

Officers were granted a further 12 hours to question the suspect, which elapses at around 11.15am tomorrow (Monday).

A resident of The Brickfields since the development was built in 1987, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We got on very well with them.”

A passing dog walker and nearby resident, who has lived in Stowmarket for 54 years, said: “It’s absolutely terrible. Nothing like this, to my knowledge, has ever happened before.

“The biggest problem until now has been parents parking when taking their kids to school.

“I’m very sorry to hear about it.”

An East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) spokesman said in a statement: “The EEAST received a call at 10.22pm on December 30 to The Brickfields, Stowmarket, to a report of a woman who was not breathing.

“An ambulance crew, ambulance officer and rapid response vehicle were dispatched.

“They treated a woman in cardiac arrest. Despite their best efforts, the patient sadly died at the scene.”

A police cordon remained in place at the property yesterday.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101, quoting incident number 401 of December 30.

In May 2013, Stephen Searle successfully ran for a county council seat in Stowmarket South, defeating Stowmarket town mayor Anne Whybrow, a Conservative.

After several recounts it was finally announced that Mr Searle had won with 578 votes, just one more than Mrs Whybrow, for the Stowmarket South seat.

In running for election, he advertised himself as “Stephen Searle, former Royal Marine commando. He fought for his country; now he’s fighting for you.”

In May 2017, Mr Searle stood again, but lost to Conservative Mid Suffolk council leader Nick Gowrley.

The same year, he ran as UKIP candidate for election as Member of Parliament for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.

He received 1,635 votes, finishing last of five candidates, including incumbent Conservative MP Dr Dan Poulter.

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