05/10/2018 15:09 BST

Michael Stirling Appears In Court Over Murder Of Midwife Samantha Eastwood

The 28-year-old was found in a shallow grave in August.

Samantha Eastwood's body was found in a rural area of Staffordshire 

A man has appeared in court charged with murdering a midwife found buried in a shallow grave a week after she was reported missing.

The body of Samantha Eastwood, 28, was discovered in a rural area near Caverswall, Staffordshire, in August, wrapped in a duvet and with tape around her eyes and face.

Michael Stirling, the brother-in-law of Eastwood’s ex-fiance John Peake, appeared over a video link at Northampton Crown Court on Friday, where he had been due to enter a plea to the murder charge.

However, following an application by defence counsel for further time, Justice Susan Carr adjourned the plea hearing until Monday October 22.

The judge also set a new trial date for March 25 next year.

The 32-year-old, sporting a beard, was shown over the link sitting at a table, wearing a dark grey T-shirt, accompanied by a prison officer, and spoke only to confirm he understood proceedings.

Stirling, of Gratton Road, Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, is charged with killing Eastwood between July 26 and August 5 at Baddeley Green, Stoke.

Jonas Hankin QC, prosecuting, told the court there were various “strands of evidence to the case”.

Stirling was remanded in custody to appear back at court later this month, as the 21-minute hearing concluded.

Addressing Stirling, Justice Carr said: “There will be a further hearing on that day, Monday October 22, in this court.”

Two other men, aged 28 and 60, who were also arrested in connection with the murder investigation, will face no further action.