Man remanded over murders of vicar and retired teacher

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The man accused of the murders of vicar John Suddards and retired teacher Betty Yates has made his first appearance before a High Court judge.

Stephen Farrow, 47, appeared before Mr Justice Keith at Bristol Crown Court for a five-minute bail application.

Farrow, of no fixed address, is accused of the murder of Mr Suddards, who was originally from Yorkshire, between February 13 and 15 and the murder of Mrs Yates between January 1 and 5.

He also faces a charge of burglary relating to a separate property in Thornbury, south Gloucestershire, between December 21 and January 3.

Farrow, who was appearing via video-link from HMP Bristol, spoke only to confirm his name and that he could hear the court proceedings.

Prosecutor Sian Sullivan told the judge that a preliminary hearing had been fixed for March 9 and a plea and case management hearing was to take place on June 1.

Hannah Uglow, defending, confirmed she was happy with the timetable and said that Farrow would not be making a bail application. Mr Justice Keith told Farrow: “Mr Farrow you are going to be remanded into custody.

“There will be a hearing on March 9 and the plea and case management hearing will be on June 1.”

Farrow was arrested in Folkestone, Kent, last Sunday following a tip-off from the public after Avon and Somerset Police launched a nationwide manhunt.

Mr Suddards, 59, was found stabbed to death at his home in Thornbury on February 14, while Mrs Yates, 77, was also stabbed at her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on January 2.

Mr Suddards’ body was found by workmen who had arrived at the vicarage next to St Mary’s Church in Castle Street. He had only taken up his post last July, having moved from Essex.

Mrs Yates was found dead at the bottom of the stairs at her home on the banks of the River Severn on January 4, having been killed two days earlier.

Yesterday, the body of a young man was found at the house in Folkestone where Farrow was arrested. Police said his death was being treated as non-suspicious.