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Court hears that Stephen Farrow had previously threatened to kill an elderly woman during burglary
THE man accused of stabbing Betty Yates to death at her home had previously made threats to kill an elderly woman, a court heard today.
Stephen Farrow, aged 48, has denied any involvement in the murder of Mrs Yates, a retired teacher from Bewdley, who was found dead at her cottage on January 4.
He admits the manslaughter of the Reverend John Suddards in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, on the grounds of diminished responsibility between February 12 and 15, but denies murdering the clergyman.
Farrow, of no fixed address, also admits burgling another property, Vine Cottage, Thornbury, over the Christmas and New Year period.
Bristol Crown Court was today told Farrow has a previous conviction for aggravated burglary, dating back nearly two decades.
The jury of eight men and four women were told Farrow pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at an address in Heath Road, Stourbridge, West Midlands in August 1994.
The owner, Stella Crow, had been the victim of a burglary four years earlier in which several items were stolen from one of her lodgers.
The court heard the owner, who was 77 in August 1994 but has since died, opened her front door to a man, "in his 20s", who initially said he was meeting someone at the property. He subsequently followed Ms Crow into the home where he produced a knife with a "12-inch blade".
Edward Burgess, for the prosecution, said the intruder demanded to go into one of the rooms. Ms Crow said she shouted for help, but the man said he knew nobody was at home.
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," she said.