Thu. May 23rd, 2019

Man who murdered midwife Samantha Eastwood gets life

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The man who murdered midwife Samantha Eastwood has been sentenced to life in prison.

Michael Stirling, 32, of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, will serve a minimum term of 17 years and 52 days.

The court heard that he killed the 28-year-old in an “intense rage”, suffocating and strangling her before “panicking” and burying her body at a disused quarry.

He then tried to cover his tracks by using the victim’s phone to send text messages to her family, pretending that Ms Eastwood had experienced a “massive breakdown” and been abducted by a stranger.

Samantha Eastwood
Image: Samantha Eastwood’s family released a photograph of her graduation

Stirling, who was in a relationship with the victim and is the brother-in-law of her former fiance, pleaded guilty to the murder at a hearing in October.

The court saw messages he sent to his victim’s sister Gemma, which claimed to be from Ms Eastwood and said she wanted to “blow off some steam” and be “left alone”.

Texts then pretended Ms Eastwood was exposing herself to danger, saying: “I’m sorry. I met a guy off the internet. He’s mad.”

Posing as Ms Eastwood, Stirling said she was being driven “to the motorway” by a man named Lee Davis.

Michael Stirling leaves North Staffordshire Magistrates' Court in Newcastle-under-Lyme, where he appeared charged with the murder of midwife Samantha Eastwood
Image: Michael Stirling leaves North Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court in Newcastle-under-Lyme, where he appeared charged with the murder of midwife Samantha Eastwood

The messages, sent the day after Ms Eastwood was killed, were later traced to a white Vauxhall Combo van belonging to Stirling.

Mr Stirling’s barrister said the killing had not been premeditated but followed a period of “growing tension” between the couple, that was followed by a row at Ms Eastwood’s home in Greenside Avenue, Stoke.

“After a struggle and while she was on the floor, he put his hands over her throat, her mouth and nose, and as a result of that she died,” Charles Miskin QC said.

Samantha Eastwood was jovial when she left her shift on Friday morning
Image: Samantha Eastwood was found dead on 4 August

“During his intense rage, he originally intended to cause her really serious bodily harm, but matters escalated and he carried out the intention to kill her.”

Colleagues reported Ms Eastwood missing on 27 July, when she failed to turn up to a night shift at Royal Stoke University Hospital.

Ms Eastwood’s body was found wrapped in a duvet with tape around her eyes and face, in a shallow grave in Caverswall, Staffordshire, eight days after she disappeared.

Her disappearance is out of character, according to police
Image: Ms Eastwood’s family said her legacy will “live on”

In the days after her disappearance Ms Eastwood’s sister described her as a “wonderful woman and friend” who was “warm, friendly, loyal, kind and generous”.

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Her family said that her legacy would “live on”.

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