Thornbury murder trial latest: Rev Suddards's body found 'surrounded by personal and sensitive items'

Gazette Series: Rev John Suddards Rev John Suddards

A COLLECTION of "sensitive and personal" items —all belonging to the Rev John Suddards—were strewn around his body after he was stabbed to death, Bristol Crown Court has heard.

On the first day of Stephen Farrow’s trial, the man accused of murdering both Mr Suddards and 77-year-old widower Betty Yates in Worcestershire, the prosecution gave a detailed account of the discovery of the clergyman on Tuesday, February 14 at his vicarage in Thornbury.

Michael Fitton QC, prosecuting, told the jury Mr Suddards died from multiple stab wounds to his neck and and chest and was found lying on his back with a bible open on his torso. An “odd” selection of items, some of an erotic nature, were deliberately placed around him, the court heard.

These included a pack of condoms, magazines, a calendar showing a “male figure”, three DVDs of “explicit homosexual connotation”, a parking ticket, and streamers from party poppers.

A canvas picture of Jesus Christ on the cross had also been moved along with a mirror to reflect the image across the body.

Mr Fitton said the items were intended to ruin the vicar’s reputation.

He said: “The items that were arranged around the body included items of a highly personal and sensitive nature. The effect of what the defendant did was obviously to spoil and harm the reputation of memories of those who knew and loved the Rev Suddards.’ The prosecutor went on to describe how, after ransacking the house, Farrow stayed the night. He drank the vicar’s beers and watched an Indiana Jones DVD.

CCTV footage presented to the jury showed Farrow walking into Christ the King Church the following morning at around 5.30am. He stood at the altar for a brief moment before leaving the chapel.

He then got on a bus to Bristol at 6.15 am.

Farrow has admitted the manslaughter of Mr Suddards on the grounds of diminished responsibility, as he suffers from a personality disorder, but denies murder.

On Saturday, February 18, the day before his arrest, the court heard Farrow sent a text message from the vicar’s phone, which he had stolen, to one of the clergyman’s contacts. The message read: “RIP Rev Suddards. Pervert.”

The 48-year-old man, however pleaded guilty to burglary at Vine Cottage in Thornbury last December.

A death threat pinned to the kitchen table with two knives was left behind after the incident.

It said: “Be Thankful you did not come back or we would have killed you Christian scum. I f*** hate God.”

This meant nothing to the owners of the cottage, however, who are not religious, Mr Fitton said.

The jury was also told the same footwear marks were found at all three crime scenes. They all matched the boots Farrow was wearing on his arrest.

The prosecutor finished by saying Farrow was not insane and acted deliberately.

He said: “The crown accepts that he has got a long-standing diagnosis of personality disorder but he is not insane. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He knows what he is doing and he knew what he was doing. He killed the Rev Suddards calmly decisively and acted in a manner that although odd was focused, directed and controlled.”

The trial continues.

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