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Inquest opens into death of wife of former UKIP councillor Stephen Searle

PUBLISHED: 15:59 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:05 21 February 2018

The scene in The Brickfields, Stowmarket, where Jessie Searle was found dead last December. Inset is her husband Stephen Searle. Picture: ARCHANT

The scene in The Brickfields, Stowmarket, where Jessie Searle was found dead last December. Inset is her husband Stephen Searle. Picture: ARCHANT


The inquest opened today into the death of Stowmarket resident Jessie Searle, whose UKIP councillor husband has been charged with her murder.

Coroner Nigel Parsley suspended the hearing pending Stephen Searle’s trial in June, adjourning it to a date to be fixed.

At the opening of the inquest at The Coroner’s Court, Beacon House, in Ipswich, Mr Parsley said he would like to extend his sincere condolences to the friends and family of Mrs Searle.

He clarified that the investigation was being carried out by Detective Inspector Karl Nightingale of Suffolk Police’s Major Investigation Team.

Mr Parsley added that the children of Mr and Mrs Searle were being supported by police.

He concluded that his investigation will be suspended pending the crown court case – and a date to reopen the inquest will be set once the crown court hearings are complete.

Suffolk police arrested 64-year-old Mr Searle following the death of his wife, who also went by her middle name Anne, 62, at their home in The Brickfields, Stowmarket on December 30.

Officers were called at around 10.30pm to find a woman who was unresponsive.

Paramedics from the East of England Ambulance Service attended, but the woman, identified later as Mrs Searle, was declared dead at the scene.

Searle was later charged with murder on January 2. The matter was adjourned for a case management hearing in the week commencing May 21, and his trial – expected to last six to seven days – will start on June 25.

At the preliminary hearing on January 2, Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, told Ipswich Crown Court that a post mortem examination had been carried out with sustained compression of the neck being given as the cause of death. However, he told the court further work needed to be carried out.

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

In May last year he stood again but lost to Conservative Mid Suffolk council leader Nick Gowrley.

He also ran as a UKIP candidate for the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich seat in a bid to become an MP, but finished last of the five candidates, including Conservative MP Dan Poulter who retained the seat.

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