The events leading to Stephen Farrow's arrest


Emma Hallett
Friday 02 November 2012 14:21

This is how events unfolded in the burglary at Vine Cottage, the murders of retired teacher Betty Yates and the Rev John Suddards, and the conviction of Stephen Farrow.

December 21 to January 2: Vine Cottage, a detached property situated on the edge of Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, is burgled. Cash, jewellery, a radio and other items are taken. A note was left pinned to the kitchen table, using two kitchen knives, which read: "Be thankful you didn't come back or we will have killed you, Christian scum. I f****** hate God".

Christmas period: Betty Yates spends Christmas with her daughter Hazel Costello and family.

December 30: Farrow is seen in the Bewdley area. He goes to a jeweller's shop in Kidderminster and sells items of jewellery as scrap gold to Annabella Harvey-Lawrence. Farrow claimed he visited Mrs Yates on this day.

January 2: Mrs Yates is murdered at her isolated home in Bewdley, Worcestershire.

January 4: Mrs Yates's friend Paul Noons drives to her home. Having failed to raise Mrs Yates, he phones the police. Officers discover her body lying on the floor at the foot of the stairs.

January 5: Pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt attends Riverscroft Cottage. He takes swabs from the body of Mrs Yates, in particular from her left hand. Tests later reveal a full DNA profile matching Farrow.

February 13, 3.35pm: Farrow seen on CCTV arriving in Thornbury by bus from Gloucester. He was noticed by the bus driver James Pratt to be carrying a large rucksack, and was later picked out in an identification procedure by Mr Pratt.

February 14: Farrow is seen on CCTV making his way towards the High Street. He boarded a bus to Bristol that left at about 6.15am. He catches a bus to Weston-super-Mare and by the evening is in Weymouth, Dorset.

10am: The body of the Rev John Suddards is found at home by builders who had gone to the vicarage to carry out work. On Mr Suddards's chest there lay a Bible, open at the Letter of Jude.

To the left of the body and propped against the wall between two doorways was positioned a picture of Christ, and at the foot of the body, opposite that picture, a large mirror was propped against the wall of the hallway. Over his lower legs was arranged a calendar of a male model.

It appeared that party poppers had been discharged over the body; the paper streamers were over the body. Next to the body lay a number of items, including some broken china and some spilt food, including some bread and some pieces of partly eaten apple. There were also some items of a more personal nature.

February 19: Farrow is arrested at a house in Folkestone, Kent, by police, who by this time have linked the murders of Mr Suddards and Mrs Yates.

February 23: He appears at North Avon Magistrates' Court accused of the murders of the vicar and retired teacher.

March 7: Police recover a large rucksack from Crapham Barn near Beachy Head, Eastbourne. On March 8 they recover other items from the remnants of a fire there, relevant to the Vine Cottage burglary.

October 4: Farrow's trial at Bristol Crown Court starts before Mr Justice Field.

November 2: Farrow is found guilty of murdering Mrs Yates and Mr Suddards.