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Drifter guilty of double murder
A homeless drifter has been convicted of the brutal murders of a vicar and a retired teacher in their homes.
Stephen Farrow, 48, was found guilty of killing the Rev John Suddards, 59, and Betty Yates, 77, by a jury at Bristol Crown Court.
Farrow, who was diagnosed as a psychopath, denied the murders of Mr Suddards and Mrs Yates. But he admitted the clergyman's manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and a separate burglary.
He was told he would spend the rest of his life in prison by a judge at Bristol Crown Court.
Farrow had an obsession with religion - claiming he had been sexually abused at boarding school by a priest - and wanted to murder the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The murder of Mr Suddards at his vicarage in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, was the culmination of a two-month reign of terror in which Farrow killed Mrs Yates and threatened to kill "Christian scum". The trial heard that Farrow sent a chilling text message to a friend on New Year's Eve last year, warning her that the "church will be the first to suffer". And according to Farrow, 2012 marked the start of the "second coming of Christ".
Mr Suddards's murder bore all the hallmarks of a ritualistic killing. Farrow told a psychiatrist he had intended to crucify the clergyman to the floor and his death was part of his desire to "fulfil his fantasy". Mr Suddards was stabbed seven times and suffered wounds to his shoulder, chest, abdomen and shoulder.
He was discovered on the morning of February 14 lying fully clothed on his back in the hallway of his vicarage and surrounded by pornography, party poppers, a condom wrapper, underwear, a canvas of Jesus Christ and a mirror. A copy of the New Testament was found on Mr Suddards's chest with an A3-sized calendar of a semi-naked male model covering the lower half of his body.
DNA evidence linked the heavy cannabis user to the murders of Mr Suddards and widow Mrs Yates, who was found dead at her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on January 4, having been killed two days earlier.
Farrow has been diagnosed as a psychopath but the prosecution did not accept this reduced his culpability in the murder of Mr Suddards. Prosecutor Michael Fitton QC said: "He was acting voluntarily and consciously and fully aware of his surroundings. He was not killing because he was mad. Our case is he killed the Rev Suddards calmly, decisively and acted that night in a manner which was focused, directed and controlled."