A HOMELESS drifter obsessed with religion who brutally murdered a vicar and a retired teacher has been jailed for the rest of his life.
A judge told Stephen Farrow he would never be released from prison for the “dreadful, horrific and sadistic” killings of the Rev John Suddards, 59, and retired teacher Betty Yates, 77.
Farrow, 48, showed no emotion in the dock at Bristol Crown Court yesterday as Mr Justice Field told him he would die in prison for the two murders, which were committed just six weeks apart in January and February this year.
The packed public gallery watched as Farrow, of no fixed address, stood quietly, surrounded by five dock officers, as the judge passed sentence.
The judge said: “I am satisfied that in your case a whole life sentence is an appropriate sentence in each of these dreadful, horrific killings. In my judgment, you acted sadistically.”
Farrow, who was diagnosed as a psychopath, denied the murders of the vicar and the widow.
He had, however, admitted the clergyman’s manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and a separate burglary in which he left a note threatening to kill “Christian scum”.
Farrow was obsessed with religion, claiming he had been sexually abused at school by a priest, and wanted to murder the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The trial heard that Farrow sent a disturbing text message to a friend on New Year’s Eve last year, warning her the “church will be the first to suffer”.
According to Farrow, 2012 marked the start of the “second coming of Christ”.
Mr Suddards’ murder bore all the hallmarks of a ritual killing.
Farrow told a psychiatrist he had intended to crucify the clergyman on the floor and the killing 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 14 February, 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 – open at the Letter of Jude – was found on Mr Suddards’ chest with an A3-sized calendar of a semi-naked male model covering the lower half of his body.
After fatally stabbing Mr Suddards the previous night, Farrow stayed at his victim’s home to watch an Indiana Jones DVD and drink beer.
He sent a text from the victim’s phone, describing the clergyman as a pervert.
Mr Suddards, a former barrister, only took up his post at St Mary’s Church in July last year, having come from the diocese of Chelmsford, in Essex.
Farrow was arrested on 19 February in Folkestone, Kent, after a nationwide manhunt.
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 4 January, having been killed two days earlier.
Mrs Yates had been beaten so viciously with a walking stick that it had splintered, and was stabbed four times in the head, with the knife left embedded three inches in her neck.
Mr Suddards and Mrs Yates were both killed just weeks after a burglary at Vine Cottage, near the vicarage in Thornbury.
Owners Alan and Margaret Pinder spent Christmas and New Year away and returned to find a note pinned to a table by two knives, which read: “Be thankful you didn’t come back or we would have killed you, Christian scum. I f****** hate God.”
After sentencing, Rev Suddards’ sister Hilary Bosworth called for tighter controls on dangerous psychopaths. She said: “Do we, as a country, do enough to ensure that psychopaths, with a known history of violence and criminal offences, are not left roaming around at large, ready to attack someone?”
Christian-hating burglar with a penchant for preying on the isolated
l 21 December to 2 January: Vine Cottage on the edge of Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, is burgled. Cash, jewellery, a radio and other items taken. A note is 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.”
l Christmas period: Betty Yates spends Christmas with daughter Hazel Costello and family.
l 30 December: Farrow is seen selling scrap gold to Kidderminster jeweller. Farrow claimed he visited Mrs Yates on this day.
l 2 January: Mrs Yates is murdered at her isolated home in Bewdley, Worcestershire.
l 4 January: Her body is discovered by police.
l 5 January: DNA tests provide full match to Farrow.
l 13 February: Farrow seen arriving in Thornbury.
l 14 February: Body of the Rev John Suddards is found. On his chest is an open Bible, nearby a picture of Christ and a mirror.
l 19 February: Farrow arrested.
l 2 November: Farrow is found guilty of murdering Mrs Yates and Mr Suddards.