A JURY at Bristol Crown Court has unanimously found Stephen
Farrow guilty of the murder of the Revd John Suddards.
Mr Farrow was also found guilty of the
murder of Betty Yates, a pensioner, and sentenced to two whole life
sentences. He had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr
Suddards, the Vicar of Thornbury, in Gloucestershire, who was found
dead in his vicarage on 14 February (
News, 16 February) on the grounds of diminished responsibility,
but this plea was not accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service. Mr
Farrow had denied any involvement in the murder of Mrs Yates, aged
77, who was found dead in her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire,
on 4 January.
Mr Farrow, who had no fixed address,
had been diagnosed with a psychopathic personality disorder; but
the jury found that he knew what he was doing when he stabbed both
victims. The judge, Mr Justice Field, said that Mr Farrow had
"acted sadistically" in perpetrating the "dreadful, horrific
DNA evidence linked Mr Farrow to the
murders. Detective Chief Inspector Simon Crisp from Avon and
Somerset Police thanked "those members of the public who performed
their civic duty in reporting sightings of Farrow and who assisted
us in recovering vital items of evidence". He paid tribute to Mr
Suddards and Mrs Yates, who were "in every way exemplary members of
our community - honest people who were prepared to offer help to
those in need - values which deserve our admiration and
Speaking at court, Mr Suddards's
sister, Hilary Bosworth, said: "My brother John was a good man, who
dedicated his life to serving God and helping other people. He was
a much loved uncle to my three children, and a dear friend to so
many, and he is greatly missed." She paid tribute to the
"brilliant" work of the police, and thanked Mr Crisp "and all those
involved, for their determination to get justice for John".
The family of Mrs Yates said in a
statement: "It is important that our mum does not become defined by
the brutality of her death but is celebrated for the 77 years of
On Friday, the Bishop of Gloucester,
the Rt Revd Michael Perham, and the Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt
Revd John Went, said that recent months had been "an immensely hard
and painful time" for the family of Mr Suddards and his parishes,
where he was "much loved". The end of the trial meant that they
could "move on, though of course still with a great sense of
On Saturday, Bishop Perham, said that
priests experienced "vulnerability" and that "there may be some
things we can do specifically about particular vicarages and
The new Vicar of Thornbury, the Revd
Dr Jan Van der Lely, said on Friday that she felt "completely safe"
moving into the vicarage, which has been blessed by the Archdeacon
of Gloucester, the Ven. Geoffrey Sidaway, and which is alarmed,
with a security light outside.
Dr Van der Lely, who lives with her
husband, said that proper precautions would be taken, but that "we
don't want to turn people away or seem unwelcoming because of one
crazy, random crime. . . We do want to have an open-door policy."
Parishoners had suffered "shock and trauma", but were "at a stage
now when they are ready to look to the future". Mr Suddards would
be "very difficult to follow".