Ex-bodybuilder Stephen fancied himself as a ladies’ man and none were offlimits – not even his son’s partner…
He killed to bed son’s lover
Over the crash of skittles, bowling alley manager Stephen Searle admired his new employee. She was 26, had girl-next-door good looks and an exotic Russian background… and greying Stephen, 51, was smitten.
Anastasia Pomiateeva first started working at Solar Bowl in Ipswich in 2005.
She showed no interest in her boss. Instead, she fell for his son, Gary, 34, when he joined the staff four years later.
Their dates soon turned to something more serious, and Anastasia – whose dad was Russian but had been born in Britain – moved in with Gary.
Anastasia was treated as a daughter by Stephen’s wife, Anne, who loved her for making her son so happy and absolutely doted on her grandchildren.
But Stephen, an ex-royal Marine and a UKIP councillor on Suffolk County Council, still secretly fancied Anastasia.
By last March, when he invited Anastasia for a coffee in the council building, he was 63.
There, he told her that he hadn’t had sex with his wife for six years.
Anne, 61, was the mother of his three sons and they’d been married for 45 years.
Anastasia didn’t know where to look. Anne was, effectively, her mother-in-law.
Then, in a shocking act of betrayal to his loving wife and son, Stephen asked Anastasia if she would ‘make him happy’.
She turned on her heel and left, but Stephen didn’t give up.
He sent her pics of his muscly physique in his bodybuilding days in the ’80s, including one shot of him oiled, tanned and sporting a posing pouch.
After a month, Anastasia relented. It seemed like a quick reversal, seeing as she’d so firmly rejected him, but she was feeling vulnerable.
Her gran was ill in hospital, and Stephen had always been so forceful that she felt intimidated.
Truth be told, she even started to feel a bit sorry for him.
Anastasia and Stephen began meeting for sex – even at his £400,000 home in Stowmarket, Suffolk, when Anne was out.
He nicknamed her SBG, short for ‘Steve’s Beautiful Girl’.
The lovers exchanged explicit pictures and texts.
Stephen posed in camouflage gear, toting guns while wearing his Marine’s green beret.
Anastasia tried to break it off but, whenever she did so, Stephen said he needed her.
She felt so grubby at the betrayal of Gary and Anne that she always had a shower after their hook-ups.
But Anne was no fool and twigged that Stephen was up to something.
Two months after the affair started, she finally guessed Stephen’s phone PIN – 4545 – after 45 Commando, the Royal Marines unit in which he’d served for nine years.
She discovered Stephen’s betrayal, and Anastasia’s, when she read messages between them arranging to meet at hotels. When she confronted her husband, Stephen confessed immediately. He’d been a ‘stupid sod’ and had made
a ‘massive mistake’, he said.
Anne was furious, but also depressed. She told her friends at the sushi factory where she worked that she felt too old to leave him and start again.
Gary agreed to forgive Anastasia, but the messy affair ripped the Searle family apart.
Stephen had to stand between Anastasia and his wife as they hurled abuse at each other on the doorstep.
Gary, who has two brothers – Stephen Jr, 29, and Christopher, 41 – broke off all contact with his dad.
He was heartbroken. He couldn’t believe his father could do such a thing.
But, despite the turmoil he’d caused and his apologies to his wife, Stephen continued to try to contact Anastasia, even following her to supermarkets and baby groups.
He’d also compiled a sick photograph collection on his computer, where he superimposed Anastasia’s head on to the bodies of porn stars.
Meanwhile, Anne was finding it hard to forgive and forget.
She told her daughter-in-law, Victoria, Stephen Jr’s wife, that she felt very unhappy and argued with her husband every night.
She told her colleagues that Stephen had grabbed her arms tightly enough to leave bruises during one fight.
When she came back to work before the New Year, she told them that Christmas Day had been ruined.
She’d bought Stephen an expensive present, but he’d got her a £14 woolly hat and scarf set from Asda.
In the ensuing row, he chucked their dinner of roast chicken with all the trimmings in the bin, Anne said.
But Stephen continued to insist that everything had ‘gone back to normal’ after he’d ended the affair.
The Christmas Day row was exaggerated – he’d only thrown the giblets away, not the whole meal, he said.
On the night of 30 December, both Anne and Stephen were drinking heavily.
He went to fetch himself another beer from the fridge and, when he came back, another argument started…
It was 10.20pm when the 999 dispatcher received the call.
With astonishing calmness, Stephen announced, ‘I’ve just killed my wife… I’ve been a very naughty boy.’
When asked how he killed Anne, he replied, ‘Erm… suffocation, really, I guess.
Bit of a bizarre situation but, you know… never mind.’
Were there just two of them in the house? ‘Well, just the one of us now!’
He was still on the phone when the police arrived.
‘Ah, hello, buddies. How are you? All right?’ he beamed.
‘She cut me with a knife,’ he told them. ‘She tried to get me in the stomach first, but I only have a couple of nicks.’
It’s a story he stuck to while on trial at Ipswich Crown Court in July. He insisted that his wife had threatened him with a steak knife.
He said he ‘never meant to hurt her’, adding, ‘I looked down and saw a blade going backwards and forwards. I just grabbed it.
‘It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I thought, “I’ve got to stop this.”’
He grabbed Anne’s right arm with his left hand and then put his right hand around her neck – the prosecution said it was a choke hold he’d learned in the Marines. He held her tight until she went limp.
He told the jury his intention was just to subdue her.
‘It was just a blur. Eventually, she stopped struggling, and I went, “Thank f*** for that”,’ he continued.
He said that he left Anne on the floor and went to have a cigarette, not realising that she was dead.
But forensic pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift said Anne would have lost consciousness after eight to 15 seconds of pressure being applied to her neck.
However, her death required further sustained pressure for a period of minutes.
Stephen said he waited about an hour before dialling 999 because he was in shock.
‘You were trying to give yourself more time to concoct a story?’ prosecutor Andrew Jackson asked.
Nor did he attempt CPR, saying, ‘I didn’t think I could get her back.’
At the end of the six-day trial, Stephen was found guilty of murder. He held his head in his hands.
He later requested his lawyer to ask the judge if he could attend the sentencing hearing via video link from prison, complaining of the ‘unpleasant’ journey in the prison van.
But the judge insisted he be in court to hear his fate: life, with a minimum of 14 years in prison.
Mr Justice Green told him that, because of his recent diagnosis with prostate cancer, there was a likelihood that Stephen would die in prison.
‘You caused devastating waves of pain to crash through your family,’ he said.
‘You have deprived your children of the mother that they loved. You have deprived your grandchildren of their grandmother, and you have deprived Anne of the remaining years of her life.’
In an impact statement, the couple’s youngest son, Stephen Jr, said his mother’s murder had caused him ‘absolute misery’.
‘I feel emotionally drained, most days. It has taken its toll on me, my family and friends.
‘I will never be able to hug my Mum or hear her sweet Scottish voice ever again.
‘If my dad had just admitted what he’d done and been honest, it wouldn’t have had to go to court.’
Anastasia said she felt ashamed and guilty, adding, ‘I was a prat to give in [to Stephen’s advances], but he took advantage of my vulnerability and I felt sorry for him.’
Gary said after the trial that, despite the pain of losing his mum, the trauma had brought him and his cheating partner closer together.
But, though he forgave her, he vowed never to forgive his father.
‘Me and Anastasia just love each other so much that, if anything, this has brought us closer together,’ he said.
‘We will be together for the rest of our lives, until we are old and grey.
‘We have all done things in our lives that we are not proud of.’
He held her tight till she went limp
Ex-marine Stephen The UKIP supporter knew Nigel Farage Stephen in his glory days
The family at Stephen Jnr and Vicky’s wedding Wife Anne suspected her husband was straying
Stephen Jnr with wife Vicky