Stephen Farrow Trial

The trial has begun of a man charged with murdering a vicar at his home in South Gloucestershire.

Live updates

Dead vicar found with pornography and poppers

Builders discovered the body of Rev John Suddards in February Credit: ITV News

A jury at Bristol Crown Court has been hearing of the moment Rev John Suddards body was found by church secretary Tim Giles inside the vicarage in Thornbury. Builders, who were working at the property, had asked Mr Giles to open the vicarage with a spare key.

Tim Giles said: "I saw John's head and feet. I touched his face with my hand. He was very cold. I could see blood and a knife with a blade of about 6 inches. I said 'he's dead'."

Builder Karl Hardman was close to Mr Giles when he found Rev Suddards' body. 'He said 'something's wrong,' said Mr Hardman. 'We need a phone. We need the police and ambulance here.' The builder added: 'There was a cloth on his chest and a Bible on top. There was blood beside him and I saw a knife.'

Forensic scientist Claire Morse explained Rev Suddard was wearing a jumper, jeans, glasses and slippers when found. There was a pool of blood beside and behind his head and party poppers on his body. The jury was shown a large picture of Christ and a mirror, both of which were found near the body.

A calendar with a male figure was arranged on his crotch along with an empty condom packet.

Court hears more about life of vicar killed in Thornbury

Rev John Suddards had only lived in Thornbury for six months Credit: ITV News

A murder trial has been hearing more about the life of Thornbury vicar John Suddards in the weeks before his death.

In a written statement, the jury at Bristol Crown Court heard from the Archdeacon of Colchester, a friend of Rev Suddards since 2004. He described the vicar as 'faithful, generous and loyal. A deep thinker.'

Rev Suddards moved to Thornbury in June 2011 for 'a big challenge' in his career.

Rev Martin Fletcher said his friend and colleague 'had one last job in him. He wanted to finish his career on a high.' On hearing of Rev Suddards' death, he said: 'I was in utter shock. I prayed for him.'


Stephen Farrow trial continues

The trial of Stephen Farrow continues Credit: ITV West

Evidence against the man accused of murdering the vicar of Thornbury is expected to be outlined today.

The body of Reverend John Suddards was found at his vicarage in February.

48 year old Stephen Farrow admits manslaughter but denies murder.

Stephen Farrow Trial: Police release threatening note

Police have released a picture of the note allegedly left by the man accused of murdering a Thornbury vicar and a former school teacher.

The note was left pinned to the kitchen table Credit: Gloucestershire Police

Stephen Farrow admits the manslaughter of the Reverend John Suddards earlier this year on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denies murder.

He's admitted a separate charge of burglary of a house in Thornbury when the prosecution claims he left a note pinned to the kitchen table reading: "Be thankful you did not come back or we 'd have killed you Christian scum. I hate God."

The trial has been adjourned until Monday.


FULL REPORT: Stephen Farrow trial

The man accused of the murder of Thornbury vicar John Suddards has admitted a burglary elsewhere where a note was found calling christians 'scum' . Stephen Farrow admits stabbing the Minister at the Vicarage earlier this year, but says it was manslaughter.

He's also accused of murdering Betty Yates, a pensioner who lived in Worcestershire. He denies that charge too. Watch our report from Rebecca Broxton.

Update on the trial of Stephen Farrow

A man accused of murdering a vicar in Gloucestershire and a retired teacher in Worcestershire admitted carrying out a burglary in which a note threatening to "kill Christian scum" was pinned to the table with knives, a court heard.

Stephen Farrow, 48, admits the manslaughter of Rev John Suddards but denies murdering the clergyman between February 12 and 15 this year on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He also denies the murder of Betty Yates between January 1 and 5 this year. Mr Suddards, 59, was found stabbed to death at his home in Thornbury on February 14, while Mrs Yates, 77, was stabbed at her cottage in Bewdley on January 2.

Load more updates Back to top

Latest ITV News reports