December 03, 2018
Michael Stirling pleaded guilty to killing midwife at her home in Stoke
Samantha Eastwood murder: man jailed for minimum of 16 years
A man who admitted murdering a midwife with whom he had an affair has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 16 years.
Samantha Eastwood’s body was discovered in a shallow grave at Caverswall, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, wrapped in a duvet and with tape around her eyes and face, eight days after she disappeared.
Eastwood, 28, was reported missing by concerned colleagues on 27 July after she failed to show up for a night shift at Royal Stoke university hospital.
Michael Stirling, 32, the brother-in-law of Eastwood’s ex-fiance John Peake, was jailed at Stafford crown court on Monday as Eastwood’s family watched from the public gallery.
Stirling, a landscape gardener from Stoke, pleaded guilty to murder at a hearing in October.
His barrister, Charles Miskin QC, told the judge then that the killing was not premeditated but followed a period of “growing tension” between the couple, leading to a row at her home in Stoke.
Stirling flew into an “intense rage”, suffocating and strangling Eastwood before “panicking” and burying her body at a disused quarry, the court heard.
He tried to cover his tracks by sending text messages from Eastwood’s phone and pretending to help in searches for her after the alarm was raised.
Sentencing Stirling, 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. 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.
“Beyond that, the most significant and obviously aggravating factors are to be found not only in your concealment of her body but in the sophisticated and mendacious cover-up that you maintained, not just for hours but for days in the aftermath of Samantha’s death, in the glare not only of local scrutiny but national publicity.
“You intended permanent concealment, even though it only proved temporary. But even that deprived the family from any full opportunity to pay their respects and say goodbye to Samantha.”
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