Vicar murder trial: Couple saw Rev John Suddards' killer
A couple walking along the banks of the River Severn near to where a retired teacher was killed spotted a man “on a mission” on the day she died, a court heard yesterday.
Julia Sealey and Linda Probert described seeing a man walking past them – away from Betty Yates’s home, Riverscroft, and towards the car park they had just come from. Bristol Crown Court heard Mrs Probert went on to identify defendant Stephen Farrow as the man who had passed them.
Farrow, 48, denies killing 77-year-old Mrs Yates, who was found stabbed at her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on January 4, having died two days earlier.
The couple were out walking on the afternoon of January 2 this year trying out Mrs Probert’s new camera, which she had been given for Christmas. While on their walk they took photos of the isolated and “picturesque” Riverscroft Cottage where Mrs Yates lived alone. Mrs Sealey told the court: “There were lots of people who walked past us, but there was one chap in particular who walked past who seemed to be on a mission.”
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The witness said she and her partner had noticed him because they found it unusual he was wearing trainers on a cold and wet day in January.
The couple both attended an identification procedure during which they were separately shown nine photographs of different men.
Mrs Sealey was unable to say whether any of the pictures were of the man she saw on January 2, but Mrs Probert identified a picture of Farrow.
“It was his eyes that drew me to pick that person out of the line-up,” she told the court. “To the best of my knowledge that was the man I saw while out walking on January 2.”
Farrow, of no fixed address, was not in court to hear their evidence having refused to leave his cell in the court building, jurors were told.
He is also on trial for the murder of the Rev John Suddards in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, which he is alleged to have committed between February 12 and 15.
The drifter has admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
He has also pleaded guilty to burgling another property, Vine Cottage, also in Thornbury, over the Christmas and New Year period, where a note was found threatening to kill “Christian scum”.
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.