1. ITV Report

Man accused of killing vicar "shot dead a swan"

Court sketch of Steven Farrow at Bristol Crown Court Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

A homeless drifter accused of murdering a vicar in south Gloucestershire was an "uncontrollable child" who shot dead a swan with an air gun and killed other people's pets.

Dr Tim Rogers, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, told Bristol Crown Court that 48 year old Stephen Farrow demonstrated many of the characteristics of a psychopath.

He agreed Farrow was a "very dark" person while Farrow's barrister Peter Gower QC told the jury Farrow's mother had "understood there to be something wrong with him as a child".

When he was 10 he had set fire to a church altar and stood and watched as it burned. He was expelled on his first day of school, shot dead a male swan with an air gun and killed other people's pets when they "did his head in", the court heard.

Dr Rogers agreed it was not possible to be sure when Farrow was telling the truth and when he was lying. But he said that after assessing Farrow on two separate occasions in recent months and reading compiled reports spanning several years, he passed the threshold of psychopathy.

Farrow failed to accept responsibility for his actions and when giving an account of killing Rev John Suddards to Dr Rogers, he said: "The system has always underestimated and ignored me and now someone has lost their life."

But during cross examination by prosecutor Michael Fitton QC, Dr Rogers said he did not believe Farrow to be mentally ill.

Farrow is also accused of murdering retired teacher Betty Yates, 77, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, the previous month.

Farrow, of no fixed address, was again not present in court having refused to leave Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire where he is being held. He denies murdering Mr Suddards, 59, in Thornbury in February but admits his manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He denies the murder of Mrs Yates.

But he has pleaded guilty to a separate charge of a burglary of a cottage in Thornbury over the Christmas and new year period. Mr Justice Field adjourned the trial until Wednesday

More on this story