Police response to Bridport murderer’s texts ‘appropriate’, says internal review

DOUBLE MURDERER: Stephen Farrow

DOUBLE MURDERER: Stephen Farrow

First published in News

AN INTERNAL review has cleared police officers after threatening text messages were sent to a Bridport woman by a drifter who later went on to become a double murderer.

Former Bridport man Stephen Farrow sent the message to Michaela Rowsell on New Year’s Eve in 2011 warning that he was going to hurt someone and that the church would be first.

Weeks later he went on to kill the Rev John Suddards, in Thornbury, near Bristol, and former teacher Betty Yates, 77, in Worcestershire.

Police held an internal investigation which has now concluded that the force responded appropriately and that there was no misconduct.

A spokesman said: “Dorset Police received a call from a woman on New Year’s Eve, 2011 reporting that she had received threatening text messages from a man making veiled threats against her and the church.

“This man went on to commit two murders. Both victims were linked to the church.

“An internal investigation has been completed and the force has concluded that Dorset Police responded appropriately given the information available at the time.

“No misconduct has been identified.”

Former Bridport man Stephen Farrow was found guilty of the murders of Rev Suddards and Mrs Yates in separate attacks in their homes at a trial last year.

Farrow, 48, was told by a judge at Bristol Crown Court that he had committed two horrific murders and would never be released.

The attacks came after Farrow sent a text message to Ms Rowsell on New Year’s Eve warning her to watch the news as the ‘church will be the first to suffer’.

Ms Rowsell told jurors that she was petrified after receiving the message and telephoned the police.

It added that the church and the system could all go to Hell, and to watch the news to see what he had done.

Police launched their own investigation into the text messages following the trial.

The Rev Canon Andrew Evans, of St Mary’s Church in Bridport, also told the jury at the trial how he had met Farrow on several occasions and felt threatened when he demanded money.

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