Murdered vicar found with condoms

A murdered vicar was found carefully positioned on the floor of his vicarage with pornography, condoms and streamers from party poppers on and around his body, a court has been told.

Defendant Stephen Farrow, 48, stayed overnight to watch DVDs and drink bottles of beer before leaving the following day.

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

He is also standing trial at Bristol Crown Court for the murder of retired teacher Betty Yates between January 1 and 5, which he denies. Mrs Yates, 77, was stabbed at her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on January 2.

Opening the case, prosecutor Michael Fitton QC told the jury of eight men and four women that Farrow, of no fixed address, admitted a separate charge of burgling another property, Vine Cottage, in Thornbury, south Gloucestershire, between December 21 last year and January 3.

Mr Fitton said the three charges span a period of eight weeks and there are "distinct" links between them. He said the burglary was the first offence in the time sequence.

The body of Mr Suddards was discovered on February 14 after builders arrived at the vicarage by appointment. The men were unable to get an answer at the home of Mr Suddards and went for help at the church. Returning with a set of keys, they found Mr Suddards lying on the floor behind the door.

Mr Fitton said items discovered at the scene were intended to "harm the reputation and memory" of the clergyman.

The court was told earlier that Farrow admitted carrying out a burglary in which a note threatening to kill "Christian scum" was pinned to the table with knives.

The jury members were shown a map of Thornbury village which showed the proximity of the vicarage, where Mr Suddards's body was found, to Vine Cottage, from which cash, jewellery and a radio were stolen. Mr Fitton said a note was found on the kitchen table at Vine Cottage following the burglary that read: "Be thankful you didn't come back or we will have killed you, Christian scum. I f****** hate God."