Workmen "shocked" at finding vicar's body

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

A parishioner and two workmen have told a jury of their shock at discovering the body of a vicar in south Gloucestershire.

They found Rev John Suddards lying on his back in the hallway of his vicarage in Thornbury in February this year.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Tim Giles, secretary of St Mary's parochial church council, had gone to the vicarage with a spare key to let plumber Richard Gough and builder Karl Hardman into the property.

The two workmen had failed to get an answer from the vicarage on the morning of February 14.

Mr Giles said he went to Mr Suddards's home and found that all the curtains of the downstairs windows had been drawn.

He unlocked the front door with a spare key and could see in the dimly lit hallway the body of Mr Suddards.

Mr Giles said in a statement read to the jury: "I felt he was dead. He was very cold. I said 'I think he's dead' and one of the workmen said, I think, 'Are you sure?' I could see blood on the floor. I think I also saw a knife, nine to 10 inches overall, with a six inch blade and handle."

Karl Hardman, a builder, described how he waited outside while Mr Giles went inside the property. "I heard Tim say 'Something's wrong. He's dead, he's cold'." Mr Hardman said he then went inside the vicarage and saw what he described as a cloth or piece of paper covering the lower half of Mr Suddards's body, and a bible on his chest.

Stephen Farrow, 48, admits the manslaughter of the vicar on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denies his murder.

Farrow, a drifter, of no fixed address, also denies the murder of retired teacher Betty Yates, 77, who was found stabbed at her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire in January.

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