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Former Stowmarket UKIP councillor Stephen Searle in court charged with murder of wife

PUBLISHED: 11:58 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:59 02 January 2018

Forensic teams at the scene of a suspected murder in The Brickfields, Stowmarket.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Forensic teams at the scene of a suspected murder in The Brickfields, Stowmarket. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A former UKIP councillor is due to appear before a judge for the first time tomorrow morning after being charged with his wife’s murder.

Stephen Searle was remanded in custody overnight after his case was sent by magistrates to the higher court today.

The 64-year-old appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court, in Ipswich, this morning.

Appearing via video link from Bury St Edmunds Police Investigation Centre, he made no indication of plea and spoke only to confirm his name, age, address and nationality.

Stephen Searle. Picture: CONTRIBUTED Stephen Searle. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Searle was arrested on Saturday night, following the death of his 62-year-old wife, Anne, who was also known as Jessie.

Police were called to an address in The Brickfields at about 10.30pm on Saturday, December 30.

On arrival, they found a woman unresponsive. Despite the best efforts of paramedics, Mrs Searle was pronounced dead at the scene.

Anne Searle, who died at her home in Stowmarket at the weekend. Picture: CONTRIBUTED Anne Searle, who died at her home in Stowmarket at the weekend. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Her husband stood for UKIP in the Suffolk County Council elections, securing a seat for Stowmarket South in May 2013.

In May 2017, 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.

The former Royal Marine commando appeared before magistrates wearing a blue sweater and dark trouser.

At his side, his representative, Chris Casey, of MSB Solicitors, Stowmarket.

Neither Mr Casey, nor crown prosecutor Ashley Petchey made any remarks about the alleged offence, which is beyond the jurisdiction of magistrates and was sent to Ipswich Crown Court.

Anne Walker, chairman of a bench of two magistrates, said the case would be transferred to the crown court.

Searle was remanded in custody to appear at Ipswich Crown Court at 9.30am tomorrow.

It is understood Searle is due to be produced at crown court in person, rather than via video link from the police investigation centre.

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