England

Stephen Farrow murder trial: DNA 'found on Betty Yates'

Betty Yates and the Reverend John Suddards
Image caption The prosecution alleges the defendant murdered Betty Yates and the Reverend John Suddards

DNA representing a one-in-a-billion match to that of a retired teacher and the man accused of her murder was found on her hand, a court has heard.

A "full DNA profile" of Stephen Farrow, 48, was found on a swab taken from the back of Betty Yates's left hand following the discovery of her body.

Farrow denies the murders of Mrs Yates, in Worcestershire, and the Rev John Suddards, in South Gloucestershire.

He claims he saw 77-year-old Mrs Yates two days before she was killed.

She was found stabbed to death in her cottage, in Bewdley, on 4 January, having been killed two days earlier.

Farrow, of no fixed address, claims he saw Mrs Yates on 30 December, but Bristol Crown Court heard the location the DNA sample was found would make it "extremely rare" to get such a strong profile days later.

Forensic scientist Christopher McKenzie told the jury: "The DNA profile obtained showed a mixture of DNA from two people which matched the corresponding DNA profiles of Mrs Yates and Stephen Farrow.

"We found that it is a billion times more likely to have come from Betty Yates and Stephen Farrow than from Betty Yates and someone other than Stephen Farrow."

Saliva or sweat

Mr McKenzie said given the strength of the DNA profile he would expect there to have been either direct physical contact between Mrs Yates and Farrow or for it to have come from a bodily fluid - potentially saliva or sweat.

He added it was "extremely rare" to find a DNA profile in such a strong level in active life after just 12 hours.

Image caption Farrow was not in court to hear the evidence

When questioned by Farrow's barrister Peter Gower QC about the possibility of "secondary transfer" - meaning that Farrow may have touched a surface and Mrs Yates picked up the DNA from that surface - Mr McKenzie said it was "very rare" to detect DNA in the levels they had found from secondary transfer.

Farrow was not present to hear the evidence, having declined to come to court.

He admits the manslaughter of the Rev Suddards at his home in Thornbury on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but denies his murder.

He has pleaded guilty to burgling another property, Vine Cottage, also in Thornbury, over the Christmas and New Year period, where a note was found threatening to kill "Christian scum".

Farrow has a severe personality disorder, which the prosecution accepts.

The trial continues.

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