UK & World News
Vicarage And Pensioner Killings: Man On Trial
The man accused of murdering a West Country vicar has admitted he did kill him, but denies his murder.
Stephen Farrow claims his responsibility was diminished by his mental state when he killed Rev John Suddards in his vicarage in Thornbury near Bristol in February, Bristol Crown Court has heard.
Farrow is also accused of murdering a retired school teacher a month earlier.
The court was told that Farrow also admits to burgling a house close to the vicarage over the Christmas period.
There, a threatening letter, alleged to have been written by Farrow, was left pinned to a table by two knives.
The note, written in red ink, contained the message: "Be thankful you didn't come back, or we would have killed you ... Christian scum".
Mr Suddards, a 59-year-old former barrister, had been the vicar at St Mary's Church since July 2011.
He died from stab wounds, and was found by workmen who had borrowed a key to get into the vicarage in February.
He had been stabbed several times; one wound went into the spine, one severed the jugular vein, and another pierced Rev Suddards' heart.
His body was covered and surrounded by various personal items, as well as streamers from "party poppers".
A bible, a picture of Christ, a photograph, a parking ticket, condoms, magazines, DVDs and a calendar were also arranged and displayed near the body.
The prosecution alleges the display was intended to spoil and harm the memory and reputation of Rev Suddards.
They also suggested that, after the murder, Farrow stayed in the house, drinking beer and watching an Indiana Jones film on DVD.
Farrow denies murdering Rev Suddards, and also denies killing 77-year-old Betty Yates in Bewley in Worcestershire.
The former primary school teacher was found stabbed to death at her home on the banks of the River Severn on January 4. She had been killed two days earlier.
The prosecution say Mrs Yates was beaten with one of her own walking sticks before being stabbed four times.
A knife was left in her neck after the attack, and prosecutors believe this final blow, which severed her jugular vein, was the fatal strike.
What, the prosecution said, was curious, was that the victim had been put on the floor in a "sort of recovery position" with her head on a cushion, before the final wounds were inflicted.
Attempts to tidy up the scene, and a lack of evidence that it was a burglary, showed that Farrow had an "intention to kill", they added.
Stephen Farrow was arrested in Folkestone, Kent, on February 19 following a tip-off from the public after Avon and Somerset Police launched a nationwide manhunt.
He denies two charges of murder. The trial, expected to last six weeks, continues.