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Court hears of moment Betty Yates was found dead
5:59pm Monday 8th October 2012 in News
A FRIEND of murdered pensioner Betty Yates has told a court of the moment he called police to her Bewdley home.
Paul Noons, who had know the retired teacher for five or six years, told Bristol Crown Court he had spoken to Mrs Yates on January 2 - two days before her body was discovered at her cottage Riverscroft, where she lived alone.
Mr Noons said the pair, who were both members of a walking group, had arranged to meet at 10am on January 3 to go walking, but Mrs Yates failed to turn up.
When he later failed to get hold of her, he went to her home and found the curtains drawn and car being in the garage, but no answer.
He decided to call the police and within 15 minutes PC Kate Medlam and PC Rob Mills from West Mercia Police arrived at the property.
The officers discovered Mrs Yates lying at the foot of the stairs. She was lying face down on the carpet and PC Medlam initially thought she had fallen down the stairs.
Inside the property they found a chair covered with Mrs Yates's coat wedged into a doorway.
PC Medlam said: "There was a weapon of some form sticking out the back of her neck.
"There was quite a lot of blood, but it was dark and almost congealed.
“Her head was laid on a pillow and there was blood on the pillow.
"I immediately thought it was a suspicious death and alerted my sergeant."
She said they found no forced entry to the house and all the windows and doors were closed or locked. They had let themselves in with a key found in a boot hanging by the back door.
Stephen Farrow, aged 48, who denies the murder of Mrs Yates, yesterday exercised his right to refuse to attend court, instead choosing to remain in his prison cell.
The court heard that Mrs Yates had spent a family Christmas at her daughter's home. On her birthday – December 28, she went shopping with her granddaughters, Alice and Ellen, before returning home.
On the day of her death - January 2 - Julia Sealey and her partner Linda Probert were walking along the river Severn near to Riverscroft at about 2.30pm when they spotted a man "on a mission" walk past them in the opposite direction, away from the cottage.
Mrs Probert later picked Farrow out to police as the man they passed.
Farrow has admitted the manslaughter of the Reverend John Suddards at his home in Thornbury, south Gloucestershire, on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denies his murder. He also admits burgling another property in Thornbury over the Christmas and New Year period.
The trial continues.