A YOUNG midwife was killed by the brother-in-law of her former fiancé after they had an affair, a court heard.
Samantha Eastwood died as Michael Stirling attacked her in a bout of ‘intense rage’ during an argument about their ‘long-standing’ relationship, his lawyer claimed after he pleaded guilty to murder yesterday.
‘After a struggle and while she was on the floor, he put his hands over her throat, mouth and nose, and as a result she died,’ Charles Miskin QC added.
‘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.’
Stirling, 32, also admitted burying his victim in the shallow grave where she was found in August, wrapped in a duvet with tape around her eyes and face.
He ‘panicked’ after the killing and wanted to cover it up, Mr Miskin said.
‘He entirely accepts that he tried, wholly dishonestly, to mislead others in the aftermath,’ the lawyer added.
‘He is absolutely horrified about what happened and is deeply sorry, not for himself, but for all the others who are victims of this crime.’
Ms Eastwood, 28, had been due to marry John Peake, the brother of Stirling’s wife Katie, but their engagement was ended in January.
She was reported missing after failing to turn up for a night shift at Royal Stoke Hospital on July 27.
Her mother, sister and Mr Peake watched from the public gallery at Northampton crown court as Stirling made his guilty plea by video link.
The landscape gardener, who had never been in trouble before, suffered mental health problems and researched suicide methods in the days before the murder in Baddeley Green, Stoke.
He was remanded in custody to appear at Stafford crown court for sentencing on December 3.
Det Insp Dan Ison, of Staffordshire Police, said: ‘I am obviously very pleased that Michael Stirling has found it within himself to plead guilty. It has saved a lot of heartache for the family.’