London - A former Ukip councillor accused of murdering his wife threatened to kill her weeks before, a court heard yesterday.
Stephen Searle, 64, allegedly told 62-year-old wife Anne: ‘I’ll kill you. I will.’
But their daughter-in-law, Victoria Searle, said the murder victim replied: ‘You wouldn’t do that – you are a weak man. You wouldn’t be able to do it.’
Searle is accused of killing his wife after she found out about his affair with their son’s partner. They continued living together but their relationship became strained, the court heard.
Jurors were told that just five days before the attack, former Royal Marines commando Searle had thrown their Christmas dinner in the dustbin before Mrs Searle had been able to cook the meal with ‘all the trimmings’.
Mrs Searle had already been left annoyed and ‘very unhappy’ after buying an expensive Christmas gift for her husband, and receiving only a £14 knitted hat and scarf from Asda in return, a work colleague said.
The court heard how Mrs Searle told the colleague she stuck by her spouse of 45 years because she felt ‘too old to start again’, following his admission of an affair with Anastasia Pomiateeva, 39.
Miss Pomiateeva had been their son Gary’s partner for eight years and was effectively a daughter-in-law, Ipswich Crown Court heard. Searle, who lost his Suffolk County Council seat in May last year, allegedly used a ‘choke hold’ he had learned in the Marines to suffocate his wife at their £400,000 home in Stowmarket, Suffolk, on December 30.
Searle, who denies murder, told police he was acting in self-defence after she attacked him with a steak knife, causing injuring his stomach and hand, and had killed her accidentally. In a statement read to Ipswich Crown Court, Victoria Searle, who is married to the couple’s son Stevie, said her mother-in-law turned up at her flat in autumn last year and said she thought her husband was having an affair with Miss Pomiateeva.
Victoria Searle said Mrs Searle then told her about the conversation she had with her husband in which he threatened to kill her, but she got the impression her mother-in-law didn’t think he would carry out the threat.
She also recalled Mrs Searle saying that on another occasion her husband had tried to push her down the stairs and the police had been called.
Earlier, jurors were told how Mrs Searle began confiding in colleagues at sushi producer Ichiban UK last summer that she suspected her husband of an affair. Kelly Lawrence, one co-worker, told the court that Mrs Searle said in August she had found out her husband was having an affair, but didn’t know if it was with a man or a woman.
‘She said he had done it before but she wasn’t sure what was going on at the time,’ Miss Lawrence added. ‘I think in the end she confronted him about it. He admitted to it and said it was with their daughter-in-law.’
Sally Cutting, another co-worker, said Mrs Searle ‘seemed a lot happier’ in the run-up to Christmas. But when her friend returned to work after the festive break, she told of being upset at being bought a cheap Christmas present, and how Searle had ‘ruined’ their meal.
The court heard Searle began an affair with Miss Pomiateeva last April. He was the manager of the Solar Bowl bowling alley in Ipswich, where his son and Miss Pomiateeva also worked.
Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said: ‘The prosecution case is that on that Saturday night [December 30] there had probably been yet another row between the two of them and in anger the defendant strangled his wife to death.’
The jury was told Searle called police at 10.19pm on December 30 and told a call handler: ‘I have just killed my wife’, before adding: ‘Bit different for you tonight – Happy New Year. It’s a bit of a bizarre situation, but never mind.’
The trial continues.
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