Stephen Searle: Where is Anne Searle’s Killer Now?

Peacock’s ‘Meet, Marry, Murder: Searle’ covers the heinous murder of Anne Searle inside her house in The Brickfields, Stowmarket, Suffolk, shortly before 10.30 pm on December 30, 2017. Stephen Anthony Searle, her husband, a former UK Independence Party (UKIP) general election candidate and former member of Suffolk County Council, immediately confessed to the murder. So, if you wish to learn more about the case, including why he killed his wife and what precisely happened to him, we’ve your back. Let’s begin then, shall we?

Who Is Stephen Searle?

The life of Stephen Anthony Searle, a former UK Independence Party (UKIP) member of Suffolk County Council, took a dark turn when he was convicted of the brutal murder of his wife, Anne Searle, in December 2017. According to the show, Stephen and Anne were in their teens when they married in 1972. Anne — originally named Jessica Anne, only to later just use her second name — was a Northern woman who lived in Arbroath, Scotland. She moved to Glasgow with her family and met Stephen, who was in the Royal Marines.

Stephen was in the Royal Marines for three decades — from 1963 to 1993. As military families often do, the couple and their three sons — Gary, Stephen, and Christopher — also moved around a lot. After leaving the military, the Searles relocated to Suffolk, bought the Stag Tavern, and became civilians. Stephen also worked miscellaneous jobs on the side and seemed to have made a successful transition from the military to civil life. However, he had a darker side that the show exposed as it took the viewers deep into the Searle household.

Stephen entered the political arena as a UKIP Suffolk County Council for Stowmarket South member, elected in May 2013. His tenure, however, was short-lived as he lost his seat to Conservative council leader Nick Gowrley in May 2017. Then, he ran as the UKIP candidate in the 2017 General Election for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, where he received the fewest votes among five candidates. It was thus shocking when it came to light he’d strangled his wife, Anne, to death in their Stowmarket home on the evening of December 30, 2017.

Immediately after the crime, he called the emergency services and confessed, “I’ve just killed my wife,” albeit with a rather nonchalant attitude. Paramedics quickly arrived at the scene but could not revive Anne. The post-mortem examination conducted the following day determined that her cause of death was “compression of the neck.” A forensic pathologist also indicated that she would have lost consciousness within seconds because of the pressure being applied to her neck and subsequently died after sustaining pressure over several minutes.

Anne Searle//Image Credit: Facebook

According to court records, Stephen used knowledge of chokeholds from his military training to heinously kill his wife. He was hence charged with murder and remanded in custody at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on January 2, 2018. Given the gravity of this case, it was immediately transferred to the Crown Court. Witnesses and acquaintances then provided chilling accounts of previous abusive behavior by Stephen towards his wife. One of his sons’ former partners even claimed he had once threatened her with a gun in a pub they owned in the late 1990s.

Stephen Searle Remains Imprisoned Today

Another witness corroborated this bone-chilling account, allegedly adding that Stephen had aimed his rifle at Anne and fired a shot during a domestic argument. Furthermore, her colleagues later testified they had seen dark bruises on her arms in 2017, which she clearly attributed to her husband’s actions. However, Anne did not ever pursue charges, citing the duration of their marriage as a reason not to start over. According to this Peacock original episode, the Searles had quite a volatile relationship owing to his short fuse combined with her alleged drinking problem.

Image Credit: East Anglia News Service

Victoria Searle — the wife of one of the couple’s sons — also revealed that Stephen had allegedly threatened to kill Anne and engaged in physical confrontations with her in the days leading up to her murder. In fact, days before her tragic death, Anne had even posted a cryptic message on Facebook, reading, “Happy Christmas… I hope I will still be here in 2018. We will see.” While the authorities have since dismissed it as being connected to the crime, the haunting post served as an eerie prelude to the impending tragedy.

It turns out that prior to the murder, Stephen had engaged in an extramarital affair with Anastasia Pomiateeva, the mother of his grandchild and the partner of his son, Gary. According to the show, he’d met her while working at a local bowling alley in 2005, and while she expressed interest in his son, he continued to pursue her. The affair began in March 2017 when he allegedly propositioned her inside the Suffolk County Council building, expressing his attraction towards her. He relentlessly pursued a sexual relationship, even sending explicit photographs.

Stephen and Anastasia’s affair commenced in April 2017 but was discovered by the family within a month. The prosecution, hence, alleged he’d killed his wife because he did not want a hefty divorce. His murder trial took place at Ipswich Crown Court in July 2018. In his defense, he claimed that he had acted in self-defense, alleging that Anne had attempted to stab him with a steak knife. But alas, the jury deliberated for three-and-a-half hours before delivering a guilty verdict on July 17, 2018. Stephen received a life sentence with a minimum term of 14 years.

Former UKIP leader Bill Mountford expressed sympathy for both Stephen and his deceased wife, drawing criticism from organizations like SafeLives, which advocate against domestic violence. Following the verdict, former politician Bill Mountford told BBC Suffolk he still considered Stephen “a friend” and added, “These things happen.” He said, “I still regard Stephen as fundamentally a decent man who has found himself in circumstances beyond his control. However, I’m not condoning it in any way but I was very, very sad to hear of his conviction.” Therefore, today, it appears as if Stephen remains behind bars, likely in a HMP facility.

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