Stephen Farrow - the psychopath who lived on society's fringe


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The Independent Online

He was a psychopath who lived on the fringes of society.

Stephen Farrow, 48, travelled the country widely and frequently, carrying his belongings with him in a rucksack and sleeping rough.

He had an unstable childhood and was described as an “uncontrollable child” who took pleasure in killing peoples' pets and shooting a swan with an air gun.

His mother said she had “understood there to be something very wrong” with him as a child. Following several assessments he was found to have Severe Dangerous Personality Disorder (SDPD).

When Farrow was 10 he had set fire to a church altar and stood and watched as it burned.

He was expelled on his first day of school, experienced bullying, fighting, using weapons, setting fires and robbery.

Farrow went on to claim he had been abused as a child by the priests at his boarding school.

He was found by psychiatrists to be a pathological liar, with a “grandiose sense of self-worth”.

He was arrogant, opinionated, showed no respect for the views of others and was deemed “dangerous”, “very dark” and “fraudulent”.

Fear and loathing of religion ran through his whole life. Farrow maintained the Church was very important to him, yet he was scornful of religious figures and wanted to kill the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He described himself as “prophetic” and said he was able to predict events before they happened.

Farrow admitted he had originally planned to crucify Rev Suddards and saw his life in terms of “light and dark”, “white and black”, “good and evil”.

He spoke of the significance of the year 2012 - believing it would mark the start of the second coming of Christ.

His psychopathic tendencies led Farrow to be superficially charming and he manipulated people using scams - often directed against the Church.

He used his religious knowledge to “use and abuse” the kindness of others by “wiggling” his way into their lives.

He chatted to people about the bible and made them feel he was interesting.

Farrow used people for accommodation, food and money and lived a “parasitic” lifestyle - working for only an estimated 12 weeks in the last 1w5 years.

Several psychiatrists have seen Farrow over the years. He has been in and out of institutions and had learned from the professionals - picking up their language and learning what interested them.

The frequent drug user told psychiatrists that he would fantasise about bestiality, raping girls and raping an elderly woman in her home and then killing her husband.

On occasions he appeared to want help for his personality disorder, yet he moved around the country and attempts to contact him by health workers often failed. He would go on to say the “system had failed him”.

The homeless drifter, who was receiving benefit payments of £270 a week, would “always” carry knives with him.

As he proceeded through life, his crimes grew in gravity from juvenile delinquency to an aggravated burglary.

Farrow had entered the home of 77-year-old Stella Crow in 1995 and asked her for a room for the night, but when she said no, he threatened her with a knife.

He wrote letters to his family threatening to kill them and also threatened to kill prison officers. Farrow even had a list of targets, which included a prison governor.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist, Dr Tim Rogers, said there are 20 traits of a psychopath - when each is given a score of up to two. Farrow scored 31 out of 40.

In Farrow, he found a number of psychopathy traits including a grandiose sense of self-worth, being prone to boredom, pathological lying, manipulative behaviour, a lack of empathy and early behavioural problems.

Farrow had tried to convince those that assessed him that he was “not just psychotic”, but there was “something more” - a claim he hoped would help his defence.

Despite his efforts the jury saw through his facade and found that he was not insane, that he knew what he was doing, that he knew the difference between right and wrong and that he did what he did as a matter of choice.