Court: Jurors retire in vicar case

JURORS in the trial of a homeless drifter accused of the murders of a vicar and a retired teacher have retired to start deliberations.

Stephen Farrow, 48, admits the manslaughter of Rev John Suddards but denies murdering the clergyman between February 12 and 15 this year on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He also denies the murder of Betty Yates between January 1 and 5 this year. Both victims were found stabbed in their homes.

Rev Suddards was formerly the vicar at St Nicolas (COR) Church, in Witham, Essex, before moving to Thornbury, in South Gloucestershire.

Farrow, of no fixed address, admits the separate charge of burgling Vine Cottage in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, between December 21 last year and January 3 this year.


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The three charges span a period of eight weeks, from December 21 to February 15, with "distinct" links between them, the jury were told.

The court heard a note was found on the kitchen table following the burglary that read: "Be thankful you did not come back or I would have killed you, you Christian scum. I f*****g hate God."

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Mr Suddards was found carefully positioned on the floor of his vicarage with pornography, condoms and streamers from party poppers on and around his body.

He had stab wounds to the neck and chest and a Bible lay opened against his chest, while a canvas of Christ was positioned near him.

Mr Justice Field, who has overseen the four-week trial at Bristol Crown Court, ordered the jury of eight men and four woman to consider their verdicts.

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