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Ex’s brother-in-law in court over murder of midwife

Remanded: Michael Stirling is led away after the hearing PICTURE: PA

THE brother-in-law of midwife Samantha Eastwood’s ex-fiancé has appeared in court charged with her murder.

Michael Stirling was charged after the 28-year-old’s body was found in a rural area near Caverswall, Staffordshire, on Saturday, eight days after her disappearance.

The 32-year-old, who is married to the sister of Ms Eastwood’s ex-fiancé John Peake, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth in a three-minute hearing at North Staffordshire magistrates’ court yesterday.

‘A lovely young woman’: Samantha Eastwood PICTURE: STAFFORDSHIRE POLICE/PA

Stirling, of Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, was remanded to appear at Stafford crown court via video link tomorrow. Ms Eastwood was last seen leaving work at Royal Stoke Hospital on July 27. Stirling, who has not yet entered a plea, is alleged to have murdered her at Baddeley Green.

Staffordshire Police said two other men, aged 28 and 60, who were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender have been released on conditional bail while inquiries continue.

No members of Ms Eastwood’s family were present in court. Yesterday afternoon Mr Peake and Samantha’s sister Gemma Eastwood laid flowers outside her house.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page set up by Ms Eastwood’s friend Beth Taylor to pay for funeral has raised more than £5,000. A message on the page reads: ‘Samantha was a lovely young woman who helped to bring so many lives into this world.’