A double murderer who killed a vicar and pensioner just six weeks apart died of cancer at a Durham jail, an inquest has heard.

Stephen Farrow, 58, was serving two whole life orders after being found guilty of the murder of 77-year-old Betty Yates and 59-year-old Rev John Suddards in 2012.

The diagnosed psychopath died of oesophageal cancer at HMP Frankland in County Durham on August 21, 2023.

At an inquest held at Crook Coroners Court on Wednesday (April 10) Assistant Coroner Janine Richards concluded his death was due to natural causes.

The Northern Echo: Double killer Stephen Farrow.Double killer Stephen Farrow. (Image: AVON AND SOMERSET POLICE)

The violent killer was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer the previous November after he had difficulty keeping food down, lost weight and was unable to eat solids, a report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said.

Farrow had refused to attend several appointments, but was admitted to hospital for a stent to be fitted to his oesophagus.

He spent the final months of his life from March 18, 2023 between the prison’s healthcare unit receiving palliative care and its Westgate Unit for high-risk offenders where he wanted to spend time with his friends.

The Northern Echo: HMP Frankland, where Farrow was jailed.HMP Frankland, where Farrow was jailed. (Image: The Northern Echo)

A month before he his death he told a nurse he wanted a ‘do no resuscitate’ order to be revoked and wanted full treatment, but a doctor kept it in place saying any attempt at CPR would be futile.

He died on August 21 last year, four days after a visit from his niece.

Farrow was jailed for life after a 2012 trial. He broke into the pensioner Yates’ home in Bewdley, Worcestershire, on January 2, 2012 and struck her from behind with a heavy walking stick.

The Northern Echo: Farrow's victims Betty Yates and John Suddards.Farrow's victims Betty Yates and John Suddards. (Image: PA)

She fell unconscious and hit her head on the floor before he arranged her body and put a pillow over her head. He then stabbed the retired teacher four times and left the knife in the fatal wound.

Weeks later on February 13, he killed Rev Suddards after the clergyman let him into his vicarage.

He attacked him with knives in his doorway, leaving seven deep wounds, and when the vicar got back up he kicked his victim back to the floor.

The reverend told the killer he was dying, to which Farrow replied “f****** die then and hurry up” before watching his victim pass away. Farrow drank beer, ate food and watched two DVDs in the vicarage before leaving the following morning.

The Northern Echo: An inquest was held at Crook Coroner's Court on Wednesday (April 10).An inquest was held at Crook Coroner's Court on Wednesday (April 10). (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

The vicar was discovered the next morning lying fully clothed on his back in the hallway of the vicarage surrounded by pornography, party poppers, a condom wrapper, underwear, a canvas of Jesus Christ and a mirror.

Jurors at Bristol Crown Court deliberated for eight-and-a-half hours in 2012 before finding him guilty of two counts of murder and one count of burglary. Farrow, who was diagnosed as a psychopath, had denied both murders.

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He had, however, admitted the clergyman’s manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and a separate burglary in the village where the vicar was murdered.

Farrow had an obsession with religion – claiming he had been sexually abused at boarding school by a priest – and wanted to murder the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The murder of Mr Suddards at his vicarage in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, was the culmination of a two-month reign of terror in which Farrow killed Mrs Yates and threatened to kill “Christian scum”.

His trial heard that Farrow sent a chilling text message to a friend on New Year’s Eve 2011, warning her that the “church will be the first to suffer”.