Stephen Farrow found guilty of the murders of Betty Yates and Reverend John Suddards

02/11/2012

Following a four week trial at Bristol Crown Court, Stephen Farrow was today found guilty of the murders of pensioner Betty Yates in Bewdley, Worcestershire, and the Reverend John Suddards in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire. Farrow was sentenced to two whole life sentences.

Farrow also admitted carrying out an aggravated burglary at Vine Cottage, Thornbury, between 21 December last year and 3 January 2012, for which he was sentenced to three years, to be served concurrently.

CPS Senior District Crown Prosecutor Sian Sullivan said: "From the beginning of the joint investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service worked closely with both Avon and Somerset and West Mercia police forces. As the reviewing lawyer I have personally handled this case throughout and must thank all the families for their cooperation and understanding under such difficult and emotional circumstances.

"We will never know what went on in Steven Farrow's mind as he took the lives of Reverend Suddards and Betty Yates but we hope their families take some comfort in the knowledge that he has today been convicted of two offences of murder. He has previously pleaded guilty to a separate burglary of a cottage in Thornbury.

"Nothing will compensate the families of Reverend Suddards and Betty Yates for their losses, or the occupants of the cottage for the horrific scene they encountered on returning to their home following the burglary, but the sentence today reflects the brutal nature of these crimes and the devastating effect they had on the victims' families and the communities in which each played such an active role."

Farrow, who is 49 and of no fixed address, had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Reverend Suddards on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but this plea was not accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service. He had denied any involvement in the murder of Betty Yates.

Betty Yates, who was 77, was found dead in her cottage on Wednesday, January 4 2012. She had been stabbed and beaten with her own walking stick. Reverend Suddards, who was 59, was found dead in the vicarage in Thornbury on Tuesday, 14 February 2012. He had also been stabbed to death in his own home. A national manhunt was launched to locate Farrow and he was arrested in Folkestone, Kent, on Sunday, 19 February 2012.