Betty’s cottage tidied by murderer, court told

The riverside cottage where a retired Bewdley school teacher was stabbed to death was tidied up by her murderer, a court has heard.

Stephen Farrow is accused of murdering Betty Yates
Stephen Farrow is accused of murdering Betty Yates

Senior forensic officer Glen Chard said Betty Yates’s house was “generally very, very neat and tidy”, other than some Christmas cards which were knocked over.

A walking stick used during the attack was placed back in its holder, a blood-stained book was placed on a desk and a medication packet, along with other blood-stained items, was put into a wicker basket, Bristol Crown Court was told yesterday.

Stephen Farrow, aged 48, is on trial at Bristol Crown Court for the murders of Mrs Yates and Rev John Suddards. The drifter denies killing Mrs Yates, aged 77, at her Riverscroft Cottage off Dowles Road, Bewdley, in Worcestshire, on January 4.

Farrow admits the manslaughter of Mr Suddards, in Thornbury, Gloucestershire on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but he denies murder between February 12 and 15.

He has pleaded guilty to burgling another property, Vine Cottage, also in Thornbury, over the Christmas and New Year period.

The jury was told that investigators examined Riverscroft Cottage for two weeks following the discovery of Mrs Yates’s body.

Mr Chard, of West Mercia Police, told the court Mrs Yates had been stabbed four times in the head during the attack.

Her head was placed on a cushion from the sofa in her lounge, while her arms were in a raised position and her legs were slightly twisted, with one placed over the other, he said.

Manhunt

Investigators found a damaged walking stick placed upside down in a holder containing another nine or 10 other walking sticks, jurors were told.

He told the court when subjected to forensic testing, blood matching that of Mrs Yates was found on the walking stick. A wicker basket was also found to contain a number of blood-stained items such as a medication packet.

Mr Chard explained to the couthat this suggests that the basket was either knocked over and tidied up, or that the items were on the floor and had been gathered together into the basket.

Farrow was arrested, in Folkestone, Kent, in February after Avon and Somerset Police launched a nationwide manhunt after Mr Suddards’s body was discovered at his vicarage. Farrow has a severe personality disorder, which the prosecution accepts, the court has heard.

The trial continues.