A MAN has admitted the manslaughter of the clergyman brother of a Bridport woman on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Stephen Farrow pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the Rev John Suddards between February 12 and 15 at his home in Thornbury near Bristol.

But he denied murdering the 59-year-old vicar and Betty Yates between January 1 and 5 as his trial got under way at Bristol Crown Court.

Rev Suddards was the brother of Hilary Bosworth, of Bridport.

Mrs Bosworth and her family paid tributes to the Rev Suddard at his funeral in April at St Mary’s Church in Thornbury.

More than 500 mourners attended the service when Mrs Bosworth was supported by her husband Phil and their children Hannah, Vicky and Simon. Farrow was known to be a visitor to Bridport and visited St Mary’s Church.

The Rev Andrew Evans, of St Mary’s, had told how Farrow had stopped off at the vicarage on occasions.

Farrow, of no fixed address, has admitted a separate charge of burgling Vine Cottage in Thornbury, south Gloucestershire, between December 21 last year and January 3 this year.

Opening the case at Bristol Crown Court, prosecutor Michael Fitton told the jury that the three charges spanned a period of eight weeks and that there are ‘distinct’ links between them.

He said the burglary was the first offence in the time sequence.

The jury members were shown a map of Thornbury village which showed the proximity of the vicarage, where Rev Suddards’s body was found, to Vine Cottage, from which cash, jewellery and a radio were stolen in the burglary.

Mr Fitton said a note was found on the kitchen table following the burglary that read: “Be thankful you didn't come back or we will have killed you.”

It also made offensive comments about Christians and hating God.

Mr Fitton said Farrow is claiming a partial defence arising from his mental condition.

“He claims the defence of diminished responsibility.

“The prosecution recognise and accept the defendant has a relevant mental condition, a mental disorder, I will call it, but we do not accept that his mental disorder diminishes his responsibility for what he did to entitle him to that defence.”

Mrs Yates was a 77-year-old widow, who lived on her own at her isolated home, Riverscroft, on the banks of the River Severn.

The trial, which is estimated to last six weeks, continues.