NEWS
05/10/2012 11:00 BST

Stephen Farrow Trial: Court Shown Chilling Note For 'Christian Scum Owners' Who 'Would Have Been Killed'

A chilling note left for two victims of a robbery telling them they were lucky not to have been killed has been shown to a court where a man stands accused of stabbing a priest and a former primary school teacher.

Written in a shaky scrawl and pinned to the kitchen table with two kitchen knives, the note said the "Christian scum" owners would have been killed if they were at home at the time of the raid, ending with the statement "I f***ing hate God".

WARNING: PICTURE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT

A jury at Bristol Crown Court was shown the note during the trial of Stephen Farrow, 48, who is accused of killing Betty Yates and Rev John Suddard earlier this year.

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

The note told the owners they were lucky for being away

He also denies killing Mrs Betty Yates, 77, who was found stabbed at her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on January 4.

Farrow, of no fixed address, admits burgling another property, Vine Cottage, also in Thornbury, over the Christmas and new year period that year.

The jury was told Rev Suddards, 59, was killed at his home weeks after the burglary at nearby Vine Cottage.

The owners returned from holiday to find their home ransacked and a note pinned to the table with two kitchen knives which read:

"Be thankful you didn't come back or we will have killed you, Christian scum. I f****** hate God."

In a written statement to the court, the cottage owners said they felt "threatened" by the note, shown to the jury and released by Avon and Somerset Police on Friday.

Margaret Pinder and her husband had spent much of the festive season away from home, leaving on December 22 and returning on January 2.

They came back to find their cottage ransacked, with items strewn all over the floor and half-eaten food left abandoned around the house.

Mrs Pinder said: "I felt very threatened by the note. As a result, I am very worried."

The court also heard that Farrow had a previous conviction for aggravated burglary nearly 20 years ago, during which homeowner Stella Crow said she was threatened with a knife and told she might be killed.

The jury was told Farrow pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at an address in Heath Road, Stourbridge, West Midlands, in August 1994.

The owner, who was 77 at the time but has since died, opened her front door to a man who produced a knife with a "12-inch blade".

In her statement, parts of which are disputed by the defence counsel, Ms Crow said: "He asked for money and jewellery. Then he said that if anyone came in, he would kill me and the dogs. He said, 'I have killed before'.

"He was holding the knife above my head in a stabbing stance."

Michael Fitton QC, prosecuting, said forensic evidence, including links to the footwear worn by Farrow at the time of his arrest in February, connected all three cases. Scientific experts are expected to give evidence next week.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.