Braintree district: Witnesses tell of shock at finding vicar dead at home (From Braintree and Witham Times)
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Braintree district: Witnesses tell of shock at finding vicar dead at home
3:47pm Thursday 11th October 2012 in News
A parishioner and two workmen told a jury today of their shock at discovering the body of a murdered vicar.
They found Rev John Suddards, a former Witham and Halstead vicar, lying on his back in the hallway of his vicarage in Thornbury, south Gloucestershire on February 14.
Bristol Crown Court heard that Tim Giles, secretary of St Mary's parochial church council, had gone to the vicarage with a spare key to let plumber Richard Gough and builder Karl Hardman into the property.
The two workmen had failed to get an answer from the vicarage that morning.
Mr Giles said he found all the downstairs curtains had been drawn.
He unlocked the front door with a spare key and could see in the dimly lit hallway the body of Mr Suddards.
"I could see that his arms were folded upwards towards his body," Mr Giles said in a statement read to the jury.
"I felt he was dead. He was very cold. I said 'I think he's dead' and one of the workmen said, I think, 'Are you sure?'
"I could see blood on the floor. I think I also saw a knife, nine to 10 inches overall, with a six inch blade and handle."
Mr Giles said he went immediately outside and told the two workmen to ring the emergency services.
He added: "I felt very shocked by now. I think the two men went inside the vicarage but only a few steps."
Karl Hardman, a builder, described how he waited outside while Mr Giles went inside the property.
"I heard Tim say 'Something's wrong. He's dead, he's cold'."
Mr Hardman said he then went inside the vicarage and saw what he described as a cloth or piece of paper covering the lower half of Mr Suddards's body, and a bible on his chest.
His colleague Richard Gough, a plumber, added: "I saw Tim come stumbling out saying 'He's dead'."
He said he and Mr Hardman went inside and then came out again.
"I was really shocked by what I saw and immediately went back outside and the emergency services started to arrive, so I just stepped back and got out of the way."
Stephen Farrow, 48, admits the manslaughter of the vicar on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denies his murder.
Farrow, a drifter, of no fixed address, also denies the murder of retired teacher Betty Yates, 77, who was found stabbed at her cottage in Bewdley, Worcestershire in January.
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