England

Vicar John Suddards death: Pornography left on body'

  • 4 October 2012
  • From the section England

A man killed a vicar and placed pornography and condoms on his body, Bristol Crown Court has heard.

Stephen Farrow, 48, admits the manslaughter of the Rev John Suddards, 59, near Bristol, but denies murder.

The jury was told Mr Suddards died from multiple stab wounds and had an open bible placed on his chest with other items "distributed around the body".

Mr Farrow is also on trial for the murder of pensioner Betty Yates, 77, from Worcestershire, which he denies.

'I hate God'

He has admitted a separate charge of burglary at a property in Thornbury - between 21 December last year and 3 January - when a threat was left pinned to the kitchen table with knives.

In court, the prosecution presented the hand-written note which read: "Be thankful you did not come back or we would have killed you Christian scum. I... hate God."

The court was told Stephen Farrow was "not insane"

The jury heard there were "distinctive factual features that link" the burglary with the killings of Mrs Yates and Mr Suddards.

Prosecutor Michael Fitton QC said the note, in red ink, was produced "in a curious, disguised style of writing" with a "squirly symbol" in one corner.

He added the text "meant nothing" to the owners of Vine Cottage, who were not religious.

On 14 February, Mr Suddards was found dead at his home next to St Mary's Church in Castle Street, Thornbury, South Gloucestershire.

Picture of Christ

The jury was told he died from multiple stab wounds, including to the neck and chest, and his body had been surrounded by items including a men's magazine, a condom package, pornographic DVDs, underwear, a calendar and a parking fixed-penalty notice.

The prosecution said the items were intended to "harm the reputation and memory" of the clergyman.

A canvas picture of Jesus Christ on the cross had also been moved along with a mirror to reflect the image across the body, and streamers from party poppers were found in the hall, the court heard.

The jury was told Mr Farrow then spent the night in the vicarage where he drank the vicar's beer and watched an Indiana Jones DVD.

Mr Suddards' mobile phone and a watch were stolen and the phone used to text a friend of the vicar the words: "RIP Mr Suddards."

Mr Farrow has admitted the manslaughter of Mr Suddards on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to his mental state, but denies murder.

He also denies the murder of retired teacher Mrs Yates, who was found stabbed to death in her Bewdley cottage on 4 January.

Walking stick attack

The jury heard Stephen Farrow knew "lively, sociable" Mrs Yates and had visited her isolated cottage in the past.

The jury was told Mr Farrow knew Betty Yates and had visited her cottage in Bewdley

Mrs Yates died from a stab wound to her neck, the court was told.

She was also stabbed three other times and had blunt trauma to the head which the prosecution said was caused by one of her own walking sticks.

The prosecution finished its opening by telling the court Mr Farrow "is not insane and knows the difference between right and wrong".

Mr Fitton added the clergyman was killed "calmly, decisively" and his killer was "focussed, directed and controlled".

The prosecutor said Mr Farrow was "fully responsible for all the decisions and actions he took".

The trial continues.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites