Hear the 999 call after Stephen Searle murdered his wife

A 64-year-old man has been convicted of murdering his wife in Stowmarket last year.

Stephen Searle was found guilty today, Tuesday 17 July, of the murder of Anne Searle, 62, after a trial at Ipswich Crown Court. He had denied the offence. Searle is due to be sentenced tomorrow, Wednesday 18 July.

The incident took place on the evening of Saturday 30 December, 2017 at the couple’s home in The Brickfields, Stowmarket.

At around 10.20pm police received a call from Searle who said he had just killed his wife. He told the call handler he was at his home address and that his wife was on the floor between the lounge and the kitchen.

Anne Searle

Searle said he had suffocated her about one hour before he called police.

While the call handler was on the phone to Searle, officers were dispatched and soon arrived at the address. Searle opened the door while still on the telephone to the police.

Police officers and paramedics tried to revive Mrs Searle but she was declared dead at 10.58pm. A subsequent post-mortem examination indicated she died from a sustained compression to the neck area.

Searle later told police he and his wife had being having a disagreement earlier that evening and claimed she had tried to stab him in the stomach three times with a serrated steak knife.

In his statement he said he grabbed for the knife and received cuts to his right hand before both of them fell to the ground. He claimed he was in fear for his life during this struggle and did not mean to hurt his wife.

Searle and his wife had been married for 45 years and have three sons, Garry, Christopher and Stevie, but there had been a recent history of marital problems between the couple.

The trial heard the defendant had been in a recent relationship with Garry’s partner, Anastasia Pomiateeva, which was the subject of the row that ended in Mrs Searle’s death.

The senior investigating officer Detective Chief Superintendent Eamonn Bridger said: “Anne Searle’s death was a tragic crime and our sympathies remain with her family and friends. Whilst crimes of this severity remain a rare occurrence in Suffolk the community can take reassurance that the man responsible has been brought to justice for his actions.

“The investigation has been professionally handled by the Constabulary staff involved, leading to the right outcome at trial. This started from the initial call handling, continued during the diligent investigation and we have worked hard to support the family through the challenging time that followed Anne’s murder.

“Domestic abuse continues to take place behind closed doors. Suffolk Constabulary will take positive action against the perpetrators where we have the opportunity. When victims of abuse come to us we will work with them to address their needs and make them and their families safe. Our focus is firmly on the needs of victims and we will continue to work closely with our partners in tackling this type of crime.

“We have a dedicated team of domestic abuse specialists who ensure the correct response is provided to victims. They work closely with the Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs), Victim Support and other local and national organisations in order to get the right advice and support for victims and help them break free from abuse.”

Statement from Stevie Searle (son):

“As you are all well aware, today there has been justice for my mum, Anne Searle. The thing is, this year not only have I lost my mum but my dad as well.

“So now all I want to focus on is my family and friends who can help me through this year and more to come.

“The part that hurts me the most is I lost my mum but the person who took my mum away was also my best friend, who was my dad.

“So now it’s time to focus on my own family and kids and do the best I can for them.”