Van seized by vicar murder detectives

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Police investigating the murder of a former Yorkshire clergyman at his vicarage seized a white van just hours after arresting a man.

The Rev John Suddards, 59, was found stabbed to death at his home on Castle Street in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, on Tuesday.

Detectives from Avon and Somerset Police arrested a 43-year-old man on suspicion of murder on Tuesday evening and he remained in custody yesterday.

The white Citroen van was lifted on to a low-loader and taken away from a property in Knapp Road – about a mile from the vicarage – at about 11.30pm on Tuesday, according to local reports.

It is believed a man in his 40s had been sleeping in the vehicle.

Officers were still searching the house and grounds yesterday.

A police spokeswoman said: “Searches are standard in any police investigation, especially one of this nature. The public and the media should expect nothing less.”

Detectives investigating the murder are trying to put together a picture of Mr Suddards’ personal and social life and are believed to have contacted clergy at his former parish.

The alarm was raised by workmen who arrived at the vicarage next to St Mary’s Church on Tuesday morning and realised it was locked.

The death sent shockwaves through the clergy and the close-knit community, about 11 miles north of Bristol.

In a statement released by police, the vicar’s family said: “We are devastated with the news of John’s untimely and shocking death, so we would appreciate being left in peace at this time while we struggle to come to terms with what has happened.”

The St Mary’s vicar took up his post only last July, having come from the diocese of Chelmsford in Essex.

Former barrister Mr Suddards had spent more than 20 years there before his move.