Midwife murder suspect Michael Stirling beaten up in jail hours before court hearing

Stirling is reported to have been inflicted with cuts and bruises in the assault that occurred on August 7

                            Midwife murder suspect Michael Stirling beaten up in jail hours before court hearing
(Source:Getty Images)

Michael Stirling the midwife murder suspect was left hiding in his cell after he was beaten up by other inmates in prison. The attack took place at the Dovegate jail in Staffordshire and it happened only a few hours before he had to go for his court hearing for the murder of Samantha Eastwood.

Stirling is reported to have been inflicted with cuts and bruises in the assault that occurred on August 7. He was moved to another part of the prison after the attack took place. According to insiders, the 32-year-old murderer was left "on his knees" after the assault.

A source told The Sun, "It was a proper beating. He came into the jail after his arrest and was terrified. A prisoner came to his cell and attacked him." Stirling had not been beaten so badly hence he was able to appear at the Stafford Crown Court through a video link on August 8. The murderer is the brother-in-law of the slain midwife's ex-fiance. 

Stirling was charged with murdering 28-year-old Eastwood. He wore a grey T-shirt and a fluorescent prison tabard for the video link appearance and he spoke only to confirm his name, age, and nationality for the court. Judge Michael Challinor told Stirling that he is to appear in person at the Northampton Crown Court on October 5 this year for his plea hearing. The trial tentatively has a date set for February 4, 2019.

Eastwood vanished on July 27 after she finished her shift at the Royal Stoke University Hospital at 7.45 am. A friend of hers is the one who called the police when she did not go back for her night shift at 7 pm. A major search was conducted by the police and her body was discovered only eight days later.

Stirling had been arrested when the body of Eastwood was found after she went missing. The court heard that her body was found in a shallow grave with masking tape put over her face and eyes. The body had also been wrapped up in a single duvet before it was dumped in the shallow grave in a rural lane in Stoke. Floral tributes can now be seen at the spot.

The authorities have said that there was no evidence that the young midwife was shot or stabbed to death and that it will take at least six months for the pathologists on the case to provide an official cause of death. The horrendous details of the murder were revealed in the Stafford Crown Court as Stirling was accused of her murder.

The prosecutor, Jonas Hankin, said, "There is going to be a delay in how long this takes to bring to trial. I have spoken to the Home Office pathologist and it’s looking at least six months to produce a post-mortem report. The preliminary post-mortem produced no evidence of a gunshot, a stab wound or a penetrative wound. The examination is now looking at the deceased’s neck structure."  

He also explained to the jury that experts from the University of Warwick are set to conduct a micro-CT analysis on Eastwood's neck before her corpse is examined by a bone structure pathologist. Hankin then added, "Their two investigations will then be coalesced to see if there is any damage to the neck. The pathologist will need both these reports for the post-mortem and this will be six months."

Stirling was arrested and charged with her murder. His 60-year-old father, Stephen and an unnamed 28-year-old man were also arrested and held on suspicion of assisting an offender. The two of them were bailed out later.

Gemme Eastwood, the victim's sister, went to her slain sister's home and took away some of the floral tributes that were left behind for the midwife by NHS friends, neighbors, and other well-wishers on August 6. The family thanked "all the people who followed Samantha’s story and tried their best to help" in a statement. Beth Taylor, a friend of Eastwood's, set up a GoFundMe campaign to help the family cover the funeral expenses and it has managed to raise £13,359 of the  £15,000 goal.