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Betty Yates murder trial opens
3:49pm Thursday 4th October 2012 in News
A DRIFTER accused of murdering retired teacher Betty Yates at her Bewdley home has denied any involvement in her death.
Stephen Farrow, 48, denies killing Mrs Yates at her cottage, off Dowles Road, between January 1 and 5 this year.
Farrow admitted the manslaughter of Rev John Suddards, in a separate incident, on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to a mental condition, which the prosecution rejects.
Bristol Crown Court heard he struck Betty Yates over the head with the handle of her own walking stick as she was alone in her remote country home. She died from a 7.5cm deep knife wound to the left side of her neck.
The jury heard how Farrow was linked to the scene of Betty's murder by a footprint on an exercise mat at the home.
The keen fisherman - who claims he must have left the mark when he visited Betty days before her death - was wearing boots with matching footprints when he was arrested, it was said.
Michael Fitton QC, prosecuting, told the jury Farrow was also linked to a burglary at a property in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, through the boots.
During that burglary, which Farrow admitted, he pinned a note reading “be thankful you did not come back or we would have killed you Christian scum. I ****ing hate God" to the kitchen table scrawled in and stuck to the wood with two kitchen knives.
Mrs Yates was discovered in her remote cottage on January 4 He said: "There are no injuries to suggest she had any opportunity to defend herself.”
The knife was left sticking out of the wound, while the walking stick - which had splintered because of the level of force used - had been placed upside down in her walking stick bin nearby, he added.
Betty was found arranged in a "sort of recovery position", with her head placed upon a cushion taken from a sofa in her living room.
Despite her head and clothing being coated in blood, however, the cushion was not stained - suggesting that her head was placed on it before being stabbed, Mr Fitton said.
Mr Fitton said 6ft 4ins Farrow - who denies being in the area of Betty's home on the day of her death, believed to be January 2 - was spotted walking along the riverbank by two women at around 2.30pm.
Farrow, of no fixed abode, was arrested at an address in Folkestone, Kent, at 4.20am on February 19.
He denies two counts of murder and his trial, expected to last up to six weeks, continues.