A court’s heard a man accused of killing a Bewdley pensioner carried out a burglary where he left a note threatening to “kill Christian scum”
47-year-old Stephen Farrow is on trial at Bristol Crown Court, where he denies murdering retired teacher Betty Yates in her riverside cottage in January and the vicar John Suddards in Gloucestershire in February.
He has admitted the manslaughter of Rev Suddards on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Opening the case, prosecutor Michael Fitton QC told the jury of eight men and four women that Farrow, of no fixed address, has admitted a separate charge of burgling Vine Cottage in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, between December 21 last year and January 3 this year.
Mr Fitton told the jury 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.”
The prosecutor told the jury: “There are two charges for you to decide upon. They relate to different individuals and different places.
“The first is the murder of Betty Yates between the 1st and 5th of January this year. Betty Yates was found stabbed to death at her home in Worcestershire by police officers on the 4th January. The last time any of her friends or family saw her alive was late afternoon on Monday 2nd January.
“The defendant has pleaded not guilty to that count. He denies killing her. He denies any responsibility for her death at all. His case is that he was not at her house or in the area she lived on the day she died. Our case is that he was there and that he killed her and that he intended to kill her.”
Mr Fitton added:
“Count two is the murder of Reverend John Suddards. The Reverend Suddards was found stabbed to death by police officers on February 14. The last time any of his friends or family saw him alive was late afternoon on February 13.
“The defendant pleaded not guilty to that charge, but there is a significant difference in his case. Stephen Farrow admits he killed the Reverend John Suddards, what he denies is the charge of murder, he will only admit a charge of manslaughter.”
High Court judge Mr Justice Field is presiding over the trial, which is estimated to last up to six weeks.