Stephen Farrow murder trial: Footprints 'match boots'

Betty Yates and the Reverend John Suddards
Image caption The prosecution alleges the defendant murdered Betty Yates and the Reverend John Suddards

Footprints similar in shape and size to boots seized from a man accused of murdering a retired teacher were found in her home, a court has heard.

Stephen Farrow, 48, denies the murders of Betty Yates, in Worcestershire, and the Reverend John Suddards, in South Gloucestershire.

Bristol Crown Court heard that after stabbing 77-year-old Mrs Yates, her killer stayed at her home to tidy up.

A walking stick used in the attack was placed back in its holder.

Mrs Yates was found with a knife still in her neck at her cottage in Bewdley, on 4 January, having been killed two days earlier.

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

He has pleaded guilty to burgling another property, Vine Cottage, also in Thornbury, over the Christmas and New Year period, where a note was found threatening to kill "Christian scum".

The jury heard evidence from a senior forensic investigator for West Mercia Police and a forensic scientist who studied footmarks found at the three locations.

Blood-stained book

Forensic scientist Padraig O'Shea said footprints found on an exercise mat taken from Mrs Yates' home showed a similar "complex block pattern" to the soles of a pair of boots taken from Farrow on his arrest.

A footprint found on a magazine at the scene of the burglary at Vine Cottage matched the shape and size of the boots.

Senior forensic investigator Glen Chard said Mrs Yates's house was "generally very, very neat and tidy".

Image caption Farrow was not in court to hear their evidence

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

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 said this suggested the basket was either knocked over and tidied up, or the items were on the floor and had been gathered together into the basket.

A book with blood splattering was also found placed on Mrs Yates's desk in her study.

Farrow, of no fixed address, was not in court to hear their evidence having declined to come to court, jurors were told.

The trial continues.

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