A man who murdered Staffordshire midwife Samantha Eastwood in a fit of rage and then attempted to cover up his crime has been sentenced to life in prison.
Michael Stirling, 32, killed Ms Eastwood during an argument by suffocation and then buried her body in a shallow grave before trying to deceive her family and the police.
“Our lives will never be the same”
The pair had been involved in a long-running affair.
Stirling, of Cromer Road, Stoke-on-Trent, was told he must serve a minimum of 16 years and 299 days behind bars following his appearance at Stafford Crown Court yesterday.
He had previously admitted to killing Ms Eastwood, 28, at her home in Baddeley Green, Stoke-On-Trent on 27 July.
Staff at the Royal Stoke University Hospital raised the alarm when Ms Eastwood failed to turn up for a shift.
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Landscape gardener Stirling, who is the brother-in-law of the victim’s ex-fiancé John Peake, tried to hide what he did by using Ms Eastwood’s to send messages to her family pretending he was her.
Source: Staffordshire Police
However, detectives from Staffordshire Police used an expert forensic linguist to prove the texts could not have been written by Ms Eastwood.
Officers also found evidence that showed Stirling’s vehicle had been in areas where Ms Eastwood’s phone had been used to send the messages.
Ms Eastwood’s body was found hidden in wasteland just off Tickhill Lane, Caverswall, eight days after she was reported missing.
Following Stirling’s sentencing, Ms Eastwood’s sister, Gemma Eastwood, said “justice has been served”.
“No matter the outcome nothing can bring my sister back,” she added.
“Samantha had a positive impact on many other lives and her loss is a dreadful waste of life”
Detective Inspector Dan Ison
“I have lost my best friend and sister, my mum has lost a kind caring and loving daughter,” the sister said. “Our lives will never be the same.”
Gemma Eastwood told the court how Stirling had hugged her following the murder in a fake display of comfort.
Stirling was also understood to have joined search parties pretending to look for Ms Eastwood after her disappearance.
Detective Inspector Dan Ison, senior investigating officer on the case, said his team were “determined” to find Ms Eastwood from the moment she went missing.
He added that Stirling came under suspicion “very quickly” because he was the last person to see Ms Eastwood alive.
“Our thoughts now remain with Samantha’s family and all who knew and loved her, whether that be through her role as a midwife and/or as a friend,” Det Insp Ison added.
“Samantha had a positive impact on many other lives and her loss is a dreadful waste of life,” he said.