UKIP councillor’s wife was STRANGLED to death as husband accused of her murder faces trial

A FORMER Ukip councillor's wife was strangled to death as he faces trial accused of her murder.

Stephen Searle, 64, has been charged with killing Anne who was found unresponsive at the £400,000 house in Stowmarket, Suffolk, on Saturday.

The mum-of-three, who had been married to the former Royal Marines commando for more than 30 years, was later declared dead at the scene.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, told a brief hearing at Ipswich Crown Court that the 62-year-old died of sustained compression of the neck.

Searle was late to court because of "difficulties on the roads" caused by Storm Eleanor but he made it to the dock wearing a grey sweatshirt.

A provisional trial date for the former Salvation Army poppy seller was set for June 25 and it is expected to last for seven days.

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary 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 accused and victim were husband and wife."

Tributes flooded in for Anne after her tragic death, with devastated pals 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 was elected as a UKIP MP for Suffolk County Council in 2013 but lost his seat earlier this year.

He told voters at the time: "It's superb to be fighting again for my Country, and my People."

The couple, who have three children and several grandchildren, previously ran the Stag Tavern pub near their home before selling it in 1992.

Anyone who has any information in relation to this incident is asked to contact Suffolk Police on 101.

Quote incident number 401 of Saturday 30 December.

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