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Monday, 6 August 2018

Brother-in-law of midwife's ex-fiance appears in court charged with her murder - as it's claimed she told colleagues she had been threatened before she vanished

  • Samantha Eastwood last seen on July 27 as she left maternity unit after shift
  • Midwife allegedly told a colleague at Stoke hospital she had been threatened
  • Body was found at disused quarry on Saturday - eight days after disappearance
  • Michael Stirling appeared at North Staffordshire Magistrates' Court today
  • Suspect's wife is Katie Stirling, sister of Ms Eastwood's ex-fiance John Peake, 34
  • Mothers who Samantha helped deliver their children donate toward funeral
The brother-in-law of Samantha Eastwood's ex-fiance has appeared in court today accused of her murder as it was claimed the midwife told a colleague she had been threatened.
Michael Stirling, 32, was last night charged with killing the much-loved 28-year-old - a day after her body was found dumped in a disused salt quarry near Stoke-on-Trent.
Samantha was last seen smiling as she left the city's hospital after a night shift on Friday, July 27, but vanished - and a neighbour claimed they heard screams from her home later that day.
Stirling, whose wife Katie is the sister of Samantha’s ex-fiance Jon Peake, had already been held on suspicion of kidnap last week and was re-arrested on suspicion of murder last night as police continue to search his home in Stoke.
Today he appeared for three-minutes at North Staffordshire Magistrates' Court where he confirmed his name, address and date of birth but did not enter a plea.
He was remanded in custody and will appear at Stafford Crown Court on Wednesday. 
Two other men, aged 28 and 60, were held on suspicion of assisting an offender and bailed last night. The 60-year-old is believed to be the murder suspect's father Stephen Stirling. 
Today it was claimed that in the weeks before she vanished Miss Eastwood had told a colleague she had been threatened and asked the unnamed hospital worker to call the police if she failed to turn up for work.  
Samantha was allegedly murdered by Stirling, who is the brother-in law of her ex-fiancé John Peake (together left) and married to Mr Peake's sister Katie Stirling (together right)
Samantha was allegedly murdered by Stirling, who is the brother-in law of her ex-fiancé John Peake (together left) and married to Mr Peake's sister Katie Stirling (together right
Court sketch of Michael StirlingStirling, 32, (pictured on his wedding day) was initially arrested on suspicion of kidnap before being re-arrested on suspicion of murder yesterday
Stirling, 32, (left sketched in the dock today, and right on his wedding day) was initially arrested on suspicion of kidnap before being rearrested on suspicion of murder yesterday
The midwife's body was found dumped at this disused salt quarry in Caverswall near Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday - eight days after she vanished
The midwife's body was found dumped at this disused salt quarry in Caverswall near Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday - eight days after she vanished
Yesterday, police made the unusual decision to publicly confirm that Miss Eastwood’s ex-fiance, John Peake, 34, was not one of three men being held in connection with her murder. 
His Facebook profile has been targeted with abusive comments and threats from internet trolls.  
Miss Eastwood had not been seen since Friday, July 27, when she was seen smiling as she left Royal Stoke University Hospital after a night shift.
CCTV then showed her driving towards home in her Volvo XC60 SUV and she was not seen again. 
Her body was found during a search of a disused salt quarry in remote woodland in Caverswall, near Cheadle, Staffordshire.
A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday - but the results have not been made public by Staffordshire Police.
Yesterday, police made the unusual decision to publicly confirm that Miss Eastwood’s ex-fiance, John Peake, 34, was not one of three men being held in connection with her murder. 
His Facebook profile has been targeted with abusive comments from internet trolls. 
Miss Eastwood and Mr Peake had been a couple for seven years and were due to marry in June, but the midwife ended their engagement at the start of the year. 
Mr Peake moved out of the home she bought in 2016 at Stockton Brook on the edge of Stoke-on-Trent and now lives on his own. 
Yesterday police were seen entering a house in the Northwood area of the city owned by Mr Peake’s sister Katie Stirling, 32, and her husband Michael. The semi-detached property became a focus of the police hunt for Miss Eastwood last week.
An officer present yesterday confirmed the address was now being treated as a crime scene. 
A statement from Staffordshire Police said: 'Detectives investigating the death of 28-year-old Samantha Eastwood have charged a man with her murder.
'Michael Stirling, aged 32, from Cromer Road, Stoke-on-Trent will appear before North Staffordshire Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.
'The body of Samantha was discovered during a police search of rural ground near to Caverswall on Saturday August 4. She had been reported missing on Friday July 27.
'Two other men aged 60 and 28, who were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender, have been released on conditional bail while inquiries are ongoing'. 
COlleagues of Samantha's wipe away tears as they read notes left with flowers outside the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke-On-Trent today
COlleagues of Samantha's wipe away tears as they read notes left with flowers outside the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke-On-Trent today
A plinth has been put up outside the hospital entrance, where Samantha worked for six years

Parents whose children were delivered by 'amazing' midwife raise cash for her funeral

A fundraising page has been set up to generate donations towards covering the cost of Samantha's funeral.
Sister Gemma Eastwood, 26, shared the GoFundMe page on her Facebook page and wrote: "This has been set up so we can give me sister the send off she deserves."
The page was set up by friend Beth Taylor on Sunday and it has already raised £3,400 towards its £10,00 target in less than 24 hours.
Many who have donated say Samantha helped bring their children into the world.
Sarah Williams wrote:  'Samantha I cannot thank you enough for all you did for me and my twins. You were amazing. Fly high beautiful'.
Claire Turner said: 'Sam helped me recently in hospital though a very difficult time, I'm shocked and upset with whats happened to her'.   
Dawn Fowell wrote: 'I wasn't told that my son was dehydrated until she took over at the weekend . She couldn't of done more she helped me express and feed my son every 3 hours and constantly checked on us, he was soon a lively little baby boy all thanks to her'. 
You can donate HERE 
The house is less than four miles from the Bucknall home of Mr Stirling’s parents, Stephen, 60, who is believed to work in a garage, and 57-year-old wife Carol. 
Officers searched the home yesterday and a small white van was seen being taken away by police on Saturday. 
Last night it was claimed that Miss Eastwood had told a colleague at Royal Stoke University Hospital she had been threatened in the period leading up to her disappearance.
A source said: ‘[After this] Samantha asked one of her colleagues to report it if she didn’t turn up for work.
‘And that is what happened on the Friday night, that is why the police were called so quickly. 
'She must have feared something like this would happen – that’s why she set up this raising the alarm thing with her colleague.’
A spokesman for the hospital declined to comment on the claim last night. 
Officers searching for Miss Eastwood found a body at Tick Hill Quarry, around eight miles from her home near Caverswall, Staffordshire.  
The scene is just seven miles - an 18 minute drive - from the midwife's home In Baddeley Green, Staffordshire, where she is believed to have returned to by car after last being seen on CCTV in her scrubs leaving a night shift at Royal Stoke University Hospital at 7.45am on Friday last week. 

Murder suspect with his wife Katie on their wedding day and their home is still being searched by police
Murder suspect with his wife Katie on their wedding day and their home is still being searched by police
The former fiancé of midwife Samantha Eastwood John Peake (pictured together), who had  begged for help in finding her
The former fiancé of midwife Samantha Eastwood John Peake (pictured together), who had begged for help in finding her
On Sunday, police were seen searching the home that Mr Peake's sister Katie shares with her husband Michael Stirling, both aged 32 (pictured) where officers used mirrors to check a neighbour's gutter for evidence
On Sunday, police were seen searching the home that Mr Peake's sister Katie shares with her husband Michael Stirling, both aged 32 (pictured) where officers used mirrors to check a neighbour's gutter for evidence
Officers using sticks to probe the area around Tickhill Lane in Caverswall, Stoke-on-Trent, on Saturday hours before they found her body in a nearby salt mine
Officers using sticks to probe the area around Tickhill Lane in Caverswall, Stoke-on-Trent, on Saturday hours before they found her body in a nearby salt mine
Police wanted to find Samantha's distinctive missing purse - the only belonging that was missing from her home before she was murdered
Police wanted to find Samantha's distinctive missing purse - the only belonging that was missing from her home before she was murderedThe development came 24 hours after Miss Eastwood’s sister Gemma, 26, made a tearful public appeal for information to help find her ‘best friend’.
In a brief statement issued through police yesterday the Eastwood family said: ‘We would like to say thank you to all the people who followed Samantha’s story and tried their best to help.’
Mr Peake’s Facebook page has also been inundated with almost 500 comments – with some trolls pointing the finger at the innocent steam railway manager.
One wrote: ‘Of course you murdered her, couple of her mates and a pair of pliers would get the truth out of you.’
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: ‘We are not naming the three men arrested yesterday but John Peake is not one of them.’
Miss Eastwood was last seen in her Volvo XC60 on CCTV, moments after leaving hospital at the end of a night shift last Friday morning. Colleagues raised the alarm when she failed to return to work that evening. 
Ms Eastwood, pictured left, leaving Royal Stoke University Hospital in her scrubs on the day she went missing
Ms Eastwood, pictured left, leaving Royal Stoke University Hospital in her scrubs on the day she went missing
Further footage showed her driving her Volvo XC60 away from the hospital car park
Further footage showed her driving her Volvo XC60 away from the hospital car park
Samantha's disappearance was being treated as a missing person's inquiry until she was found murdered on Saturday
Samantha's disappearance was being treated as a missing person's inquiry until she was found murdered on Saturday

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