Drifter who threatened to kill Stourbridge woman is jailed for life for Betty Yates murder (From Stourbridge News)
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Drifter who threatened to kill Stourbridge woman is jailed for life for Betty Yates murder
4:52pm Friday 2nd November 2012 in News
A HOMELESS drifter who threatened to kill an elderly woman in Stourbridge has been jailed for life for the horrific murders of retired Worcestershire teacher Betty Yates and a Gloucestershire vicar.
A jury at Bristol Crown Court today found Stephen Farrow, aged 48, guilty of the 77-year-old’s murder and that of Rev John Suddards in Thornbury, south Gloucestershire.
The judge handed the diagnosed psychopath, of no fixed abode, two whole-life sentences for the killings which he had denied.
During the trial the court heard Farrow had been responsible for an aggravated burglary at the Stourbridge home of Stella Crow in August 1994.
The court heard the 77-year-old, who has since died, was threatened with a knife with a “12-inch blade” and told she might be killed.
In her statement about the incident Ms Crow said: “He asked for money and jewellery. Then he said that if anyone came in, he would kill me and the dogs.’ Farrow was also reported to have said ‘I have killed before’.
The court heard DNA evidence linked Farrow, a heavy cannabis user, to the murders of Rev Suddards and widow Mrs Yates, who was found dead at her remote Bewdley cottage on January 4, having been killed two days earlier.
Mrs Yates's body was found lying in the hallway with her head resting on a cushion. She had been beaten with a walking stick and stabbed four times in the head, with the knife still embedded in her neck.
Rev Suddards and Mrs Yates were both killed weeks after a burglary at Vine Cottage, near the vicarage in Thornbury, where Farrow, who was obsessed with religion, had left a note threatening to kill "Christian scum".
The trial heard Farrow also sent a chilling text message to a friend on New Year's Eve last year, warning her the "church will be the first to suffer".
Rev Suddards's murder bore all the hallmarks of a ritualistic killing, the court heard.
Farrow told a psychiatrist he had intended to crucify the clergyman to the floor and his death was part of his desire to "fulfil his fantasy".
Rev Suddards, who was stabbed seven times and suffered wounds to his shoulder, chest, abdomen and shoulder, was discovered on February 14.
Farrow admitted his manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and a separate burglary at a property in Thornbury over Christmas and the New Year.