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Samantha Eastwood: Man jailed for life for murdering his lover and midwife in a ‘rage’

Samantha Eastwood: Man jailed for life for murdering his lover and midwife in a ‘rage’

A landscape gardener has been jailed for at least 16 years for the murder of midwife Samantha Eastwood in Staffordshire. Michael Stirling, 32, suffocated and strangled his 28 year-old lover during a row at her home in Stoke-on-Trent before burying her body at a disused quarry. Her body was found in a shallow grave in…

A landscape gardener has been jailed for at least 16 years for the murder of midwife Samantha Eastwood in Staffordshire.

Michael Stirling, 32, suffocated and strangled his 28 year-old lover during a row at her home in Stoke-on-Trent before burying her body at a disused quarry.

He tried to cover his tracks by using her phone to text her family to say she had run away with a “man off the internet”.

Stirling also pretended to help in searches for her and even comforted her worried sister with a hug despite knowing Ms Eastwood was already dead.

Her body was found in a shallow grave in Caverswall eight days later. Ms Eastwood had been wrapped in a duvet, with tape around her eyes and face.

Stirling pleaded guilty to the murder at a hearing at Stafford Crown Court in October.

Ms Eastwood’s family watched from the public gallery as he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 16 year minimum term on Monday.

Mrs Justice Susan Carr said: “Samantha was alone in her home where she should have been safe and sound, and trusted you in her house.

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“On any view, she suffered what must have been a terrifying assault resulting in a killing that was not immediate.

“She would have been aware that she was being strangled and smothered to death.”

The judge described Stirling’s attempt to conceal the murder as a “sophisticated and mendacious cover-up … in the glare not only of local scrutiny but national publicity.”

She said: “You weaved an extraordinary web of deception. The additional distress and trauma caused to Samantha’s family by these features has been and continues to be immense, not to mention the many hours and days spent by the police and volunteers looking for Samantha when you knew exactly where she was.

“Throughout this period you were repeatedly acting deliberately and without remorse; you were composed and callous.”

The court heard Stirling’s wife Kate was unaware of his three-year affair with Ms Eastwood, who was engaged to his brother-in-law.

Ms Eastwood called off the wedding in January but her relationship with Stirling became increasingly tense before the row at her home in Greenside Avenue, Stoke.

Detective Inspector Dan Ison, who led the murder investigation, compared Stirling to child killer Ian Huntley, who took part in several public appeals for information after murdering two ten year-old girls in Soham, Cambridgeshire.

“His actions were cruel to the family in that he sent messages from Samantha’s phone the next day, which tends to suggest she was still alive,” said DI Ison.

“His callous way of treating Samantha’s body – having killed her – like it was an animal and he was just throwing her to the side of the road and burying her in a shallow grave.

“He left the site of burying her, went straight back to the house and hugged Samantha’s sister. How could he do that, how could he go from burying somebody to then hugging her sister and showing empathy to the family?”

DI Ison added: “To go to that level of deceit to the family, it’s unthinkable really.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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