Staffordshire Midwife Found In "Shallow Grave With Eyes Taped"

8 August 2018, 14:07 | Updated: 8 August 2018, 14:19

Murdered midwife from Stoke

The body of midwife Samantha Eastwood was found in a shallow grave, wrapped in a duvet cover and with tape around her eyes and face, a court has heard.

The 28 year-old was discovered in a rural area near Caverswall, Staffordshire, on Saturday - eight days after going missing.

32 year-old Michael Stirling, of Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, appeared at Stafford Crown Court on Wednesday charged with her murder. 

Appearing from HMP Dovecote via video-link, he spoke only to confirm his name, age and nationality and that he understood the proceedings.

Stirling is the brother-in-law of Miss Eastwood's ex-fiance, John Peake, and is accused of murdering the midwife between July 26th and August 5th at Baddeley Green, Stoke.

Jonas Hankin QC, prosecuting, told the court the ongoing investigation into the midwife's death was "complex" and meant a provisional trial date early in 2019 was unlikely to remain in place.

A preliminary post-mortem examination did not reveal any gunshot, stab or penetrating wounds, and further analysis of neck bones was due to be carried out, Judge Michael Challinor QC was also told.

Defence barrister Samina Rasid made no application for bail and Stirling was not required to enter any plea. He was remanded in custody to appear at Northampton Crown Court for a plea hearing on 5th October. The trial date was provisionally scheduled for 4th February next year.

Two other men, aged 28 and 60, who were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, remain on conditional police bail while inquiries continue.

On Monday, Miss Eastwood's younger sister, Gemma, visited her sibling's home to take away some of the many flowers and keepsakes left by NHS colleagues, neighbours and members of the public.

In a statement issued through Staffordshire Police, the midwife's family said: "We would like to say thank you to all the people who followed Samantha's story and tried their best to help."