Vicar's killer placed condoms, pornography and party poppers around dead body, court hears


A man killed a fatally stabbed a highly-respected clergyman inside his vicarage then arranged the body in a gruesome tableau of pornography, religious imagery and party poppers before staying the night to drink beer and watch films, a court heard yesterday.

The killing happened little more than a month after Stephen Farrow, 48, burgled a nearby house while the owners were away and left a death threat impaled on a table with two knives saying: "Christian scum. I f****** hate God," Bristol Crown Court was told.

Stephen Farrow, who admits killing Rev John Suddards but denies murder, is also accused of murdering retired teacher Betty Yates who was found stabbed at her home in Bewdley, Worcestershire, in January this year. He denies her murder.

Builders discovered the body of Rev Suddards on February 14 lying on his back fully-clothed in a pool of blood in the south Gloucestershire town of Thornbury.

A Bible opened to the Letter of Jude was left lying on his chest, said Michael Fitton QC, for the prosecution.

A calendar with a male figure was arranged on his crotch along with an empty condom packet. DVDs with "homosexual connotations" and underwear were strewn around his body while streamers from party poppers were left on the body.

A canvas of Christ on the cross was propped up one side of the body with a mirror on the other side. "If one was to position oneself in the same way as the body and look to the right into the mirror then one might see the reflection of the canvas of Christ on the cross," said Mr Fitton.

"The effect of what he (Farrow) did is obvious. The effect is to soil and harm the reputation and the memory of those who loved the Reverend."

The court was told that Farrow then retired to the sitting room where he drank a number of bottles of beer. A copy of an Indiana Jones action movie was found in the vicar's DVD player, the court heard. He left at the end of the night having obscured the windows at the house, the jury was told.

The court was told Farrow's crimes were allegedly committed over eight weeks starting with a burglary in the Thornbury over the Christmas and New Year period while the owners, Alan and Margaret Pinder, were absent.

When they returned they found half-eaten food in the kitchen and belongings strewn over the floor. On the kitchen table they found a note: "Be thankful you didn't come back or we will have killed you, Christian scum. I f****** hate God."

Mr Fitton said there were "distinct" links between the burglary and the two killings. He told the court that Farrow - who the prosecution said had a mental disorder - admitted burgling the house.

The case continues.

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