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Former UKIP councillor 'never intended to cause death of wife'

A former UKIP councillor and Royal Marine has today told a jury that he never intended to cause the death of his wife at their Stowmarket home.

Stephen Searle, 64, claimed that he restrained his wife after she picked up a kitchen knife and tried to attack him.

Giving evidence, Searle said that he walked away after holding Jessie Anne Searle down with an open hand on her neck for about 20 seconds and then returned a

short time later to find she was dead.

Searle said that on the evening of the tragedy both he and his wife had been drinking and earlier she used the knife to stab the arm of a sofa before he felt a 'stinging' sensation to his stomach and saw the blade of the knife.

The jury were shown pictures of the knife and injuries suffered by Searle during the alleged incident.

He said that after leaving his wife on the floor and going for a cigarette and a drink, he expected her to follow him but was shocked to find that she had stopped breathing

Searle is on trial at Ipswich Crown Court where it has been alleged that he strangled his wife to death at their home in The Brickfields, Stowmarket on December 30.

The prosecution allege that Searle probably used a 'choke hold' learned during his Royal Marine training to kill his wife.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, claimed that the killing of Glasgow-born Mrs Searle, a 62-year-old mother of three grown up children, had been 'quite deliberate'.

Emergency services had been alerted by Searle in a telephone call in which he told an operator: "I've just killed my wife."

Police and paramedics attended the house but were unable to revive Mrs Searle who was declared dead at the scene.

Searle told the court that he met and married his wife when he was aged 19 while stationed with the Royal Marines in Arbroath. His wife had been aged 17.

Questioned by defence barrister Stephen Dyble, Searle said that as part of his nine month Royal Marine training he was instructed in unarmed combat techniques.

Jessie Anne Searle
Jessie Anne Searle

Becoming visibly emotional while talking about his wife, Searle said they moved to Suffolk in 1990 and taken over The Stag public house in Stowmarket which they ran for six years.

Searle said that at the time of his wife's death, they had been married for 45 years, during which time they had a trial five month separation but got back together again afterwards.

The court heard that at the time of Mrs Searle's death, tests had shown that both she and her husband had approximately two and a half times the legal drink-drive limit of alcohol in their blood.

Searle said: "We used to drink every day."

He started at about 4pm and would consume between eight and ten cans of lager.

His wife drank gin and was buying a one and a half litre bottle every two days, said Searle.

Searle told the jury: "We have always liked to drink but over the years it increased."

He admitted that the couple had consumed 'huge amounts' of alcohol.

Searle had an affair with their daughter-in-law Anastasia Pomiateeva, which began in March or April last year and continued until Mrs Searle became suspicious and checked messages on her husband's phone.

Searle said: "I made stupid mistakes. I was caught on the phone, always after having much alcohol."

Among the messages found by Mrs Searle was one concerning a room he had booked at a hotel in Felixstowe for himself and Miss Pomiateeva.

After finding text messages relating to what Searle and Miss Pomiateeva planned while they were together, he said his wife had woken him at 4am and he 'admitted everything'.

Miss Pomiateeva arrived at their house in Stowmarket where there were heated verbal exchanges between her and Mrs Searle for about 10 minutes, said Searle, who then left the house and spent the following night at his son's home.

Before Miss Pomiateeva arrived, his wife had gone into the kitchen and picked up a large carving knife, said Searle.

He said: "I said 'come on, give me that, don't be stupid. We need to talk this out'.

"I tried to get the knife off Anne. I received a slight cut on my arm in the process. She gave it up. I didn't think she had any real intention to use it."

Following that incident and after Searle returned to the house a day later, he said that his wife had been 'much calmer' and they continued to live together until the day of her death.

The trial continues.