Stephen Farrow, 48, appeared in court today charged with the murder of retired teacher Betty Yates from Worcestershire and clergyman Reverend John Suddards from Gloucestershire.

Mrs Yates, who was 77, was found stabbed at her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on January 4th this year.

Farrow admits the manslaughter of Reverend Suddards but denies his murder, and also denies the murder of Betty Yates.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Mrs Yates's home was locked when worried friends came to call on January 4th, and that a chair and a coat appeared to have been placed to hide any view of a body.

Prosecutor Michael Fitton QC told the court that the scene:

"tends to indicate not a man in panic, not a man worried about being discovered at that stage, not a man distressed by the nature of the scene or the blood or the victim"

Mrs Yates's body was found by police, lying in her hallway with her head resting on a cushion. She had been stabbed four times in the head, with the knife still imbedded in her neck, Mr Fitton said.

The court heard there were no injuries to suggest Mrs Yates may have been able to defend herself.

Mr Fitton added:

"the weapon which appears to have felled her appears to have been one of her own walking sticks."

The prosecutor said the attacker's intention had been to kill. The trial continues.