Man faces court charged with murders of retired Sutton teacher and vicar

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By Walsall Advertiser | Friday, October 05, 2012, 09:20

THE trial of a man accused of murdering former Sutton teacher Betty Yates and a Gloucestershire vicar has begun.

Stephen Farrow, who denies killing the retired Foley First School teacher and Reverend John Suddards, was in Bristol Crown Court as the Observer went to press yesterday (Thursday) for the trial, which is expected to last six weeks.

Farrow, of no fixed address, was detained in custody after pleading not guilty to murdering the 77-year-old mother-of-two between January 1 and 5.

He admits the manslaughter of Rev Suddards but denies murdering the South Gloucestershire clergyman between February 12 and 15 this year.

Farrow has also admitted to an unconnected charge of burgling Vine Cottage in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, between December 21 last year and January 3.

The jury of eight men and four women heard from prosecutor Michael Fitton QC yesterday how a note threatening to "kill Christian scum" was found pinned to the kitchen table with knives during the burglary.

Forty-eight-year-old Farrow was arrested in Folkestone, Kent, in February following a nationwide manhunt after detectives said they were linking the murders of Mrs Yates and Rev Suddards, aged 59.

Mrs Yates, described by former pupils at the Streetly-based school where she taught during the mid to late 1970s as "the best teacher there was", was found at the foot of the stairs of her remote riverside cottage near Bewdley on January 4 after missing an organised walk with friends the day before.

She had been struck several times with her own walking stick before being stabbed to death in the neck during what police described as a "sustained and violent attack".

The body of Rev Suddards, who had also been stabbed to death, was discovered at his home in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, on February 14.



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