Man who said he hated God murdered vicar, court hears

A man who killed a vicar had previously burgled a house leaving a note threatening “Christian scum”, a court has heard.

Stephen Farrow admits the manslaughter of Revd John Suddards, a former barrister, but denies murder.

Mr Farrow is also on trial for the murder of retired teacher Betty Yates – a charge he denies.


Revd Suddards was found stabbed to death at his home in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire by police officers on 14 February this year.

The court heard that Mr Farrow had placed various items, including a condom package, on Revd Suddards’ body.

The prosecution said the items were intended to “harm the reputation and memory” of the clergyman.

Right and wrong

Mr Farrow is claiming a partial defence of the killing arising from his mental health condition.

Michael Fitton QC, speaking for the prosecution, said it accepted that Mr Farrow had a severe personality disorder.

But he added: “He knows the difference between right and wrong. He did what he did as a matter of choice.

“He was acting voluntarily, consciously and fully aware of his surroundings. He was not killing because he was mad.”


Mr Farrow has admitted a separate change of breaking into a cottage of a non-religious couple in the same town as Revd Suddards.

A note was found there pinned to a table with knives which said: “Be thankful you did not come back or I would have killed you, you Christian scum.” It added: “I…hate God”.

Mr Farrow was arrested in Folkestone, Kent, following a tip-off by the public.

Revd Suddards had only taken up his post in July last year, having come from the diocese of Chelmsford in Essex.

High Court judge Mr Justice Field is presiding over the trial, which is set to last up to six weeks.