UPDATED: Former UKIP councillor appears in court charged with wife’s murder

Stephen Searle, former UKIP county councillor
Stephen Searle, former UKIP county councillor

A former Royal Marine and UKIP county councillor appeared in court this morning charged with the murder of his wife.

Stephen Searle, 64, is accused of killing 62-year-old wife Anne who died at their family home in Stowmarket, on Saturday night.

Anne Searle

Anne Searle

Emergency services were called to the scene at around 10.20pm, but the grandmother was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly after they arrived.

Mother-of-three Mrs Searle suffered a cardiac arrest and a post-mortem carried out on Sunday requires further tests to determine her cause of death.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said today: “The victim has been formally identified as Anne Searle, aged 62, of The Brickfields, Stowmarket.

“64-year-old Stephen Searle, of the same address, was charged with murder in the early hours of Tuesday 2 January.

The Brickfields, in Stowmarket. Picture: Mark Westley.

The Brickfields, in Stowmarket. Picture: Mark Westley.

“The accused and victim were husband and wife.”

Friends of Mrs Searle paid tribute to her, describing her as ‘the most bright beautiful sweet person you could have ever known’.

Tommie Marie Stickel, who knew her for around 15 years, said: “All her kids and grandkids were her life.

“She was the most bright beautiful sweet person you could have ever known.

“I am in shock.”

Angela Burrows, 45, added: “I can’t believe she died.

“I knew their sons and she’s got grandchildren as well, nice people.”

Searle is a former Royal Marines commando who also sold poppies for the British Legion.

He was elected as a UKIP county councillor for the Stowmarket South division on Suffolk County Council in 2013 but lost his seat last year.

Speaking at the time of his election, he said: “It’s superb to be fighting again for my country, and my people.”

He also stood as a UKIP parliamentary candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich in last year’s General Election. He received 1,635 votes, finishing last of five candidates and the seat was retained by Conservative Dr Dan Poulter.

Searle and his wife ran the Stag Tavern pub, in Stowmarket, before they sold it in 1992.

Searle, who had recently been employed as a meter reader, appeared at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court today.

He spoke only to confirm his name, address and nationality.

Presiding magistrate Anne Walker ordered that Searle be remanded in custody and appear at Ipswich Crown Court tomorrow (Wednesday, January 3).