Express & Star

Double killer Stephen Farrow who murdered teacher Betty Yates dies in prison aged 58

A double killer who battered a defenceless West Midland pensioner with her own walking stick before stabbing her has died in prison aged 58.

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Stephen Farrow died in prison

Stephen Farrow, 58, was handed two whole-life sentences in 2012 for the murders of retired schoolteacher Betty Yates, 77, at her home in Bewdley, and the Rev John Suddards, 59, at his vicarage in Thornbury, Gloucestershire.

Mrs Yates, described as a 'pillar of the community', had taught in schools in Walsall and Kidderminster before her retirement.

Farrow died at HMP Frankland in Durham on Monday. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.

A statement from the Prison Service said: "HMP Frankland prisoner Stephen Farrow died on 21 August.

"As with all deaths in custody, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will investigate."

The homeless loner, who had an obsessive hatred of Christianity, was found guilty of the murders following a three-week trial at Bristol Crown Court. He also confessed to the murder of a backpacker in Devon in 1988, although his claim was never substantiated.

His reign of terror began in November 2011, when he broke into a cottage in Thornbury, and left a chilling note describing the occupants as 'Christian scum' and telling them they were lucky they had not been at home.

In January 2012 he went to Mrs Yates' cottage in Dowles Road, Bewdley, and battered the widow with her walking stick before stabbing her four times in the neck.

The following month he returned to Thornbury where he stabbed Mr Suddards to death in his vicarage, before covering his body with gay porn DVDs.

Farrow admitted the burglary and manslaughter of Mr Suddards on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but denied fatally stabbing Mrs Yates.

He was found guilty of both murders.

Mr Justice Richard Field said he had acted sadistically in the "dreadful, horrific killings".

Mrs Yates taught at St John CE Middle School in Kidderminster and Foley First School in Streetly.

More than 400 people attended a memorial service at St Anne's Church in the centre of Bewdley.

Her children 53-year-old Hazel Costello, from Staffordshire, and David Yates, 51, of Berkshire, spoke to the congregation of their mother’s ‘larger than life’ personality.

They described her as 'kind, determined and above all good fun'.

Following his sentencing, they added: "We should all be relieved and thankful that Stephen Farrow is off the streets of Britain today."

Farrow, who had been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, claimed he had been abused by a priest as a child.