A Bridport woman and a vicar told how they felt threatened by a drifter accused of murdering a clergyman and a pensioner.

A court was told how Stephen Farrow sent a text message to Michaela Rowsell warning her to watch the news as the ‘church will be the first to suffer’.

Farrow, 48, sent the text on New Year’s Eve last year to Bridport woman Mrs Rowsell, a jury at Bristol Crown Court heard.

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

Farrow denies murdering the Rev John Suddards, 59, at his vicarage in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, in February this year and retired teacher Betty Yates, 77, in Bewdley, Worcestershire, in January.

Mrs Rowsell, known to friends as Ky, told jurors that she was petrified after receiving the message and phoned the police.

Farrow’s text, timed at 8.25pm, said: “So as you reject me you will suffer. I will be just around the corner and you will never know when I will be there.

“I’ve already started my work and won’t stop until I’m caught.

“You don’t and never knew just how disturbed I am.

“You will soon know the truth and the church will be the first to suffer and I don’t lie about what is about to happen.”

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

Mrs Rowsell first met Farrow in the spring of last year when she went to an evangelical church in Bridport to help with the homeless.

She told jurors their relationship was purely platonic.

But she said Farrow fancied her and would orchestrate meetings at the church in order to be alone with her.

Mrs Rowsell told the court she had seen Farrow be violent towards other homeless men and suffered mood swings.

Farrow denies two counts of murder but has admitted Mr Suddards’ manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Farrow has also pleaded guilty to a burglary of a cottage in Thornbury over the Christmas and new year period.

Rev Evans said he first met Farrow in spring last year when he came to the church with another homeless man.

Mr Evans said he saw Farrow regularly over the next 12 months and last spoke to him in January.

“He would often become aggressive and assertive in his attitude towards the church and he could not understand why any church would not give him money.

“We have a clear rule that we do not give money under any circumstances.”

On one occasion Farrow turned up at St Mary’s demanding cash.

Rev Evans said: “Only on one occasion did I feel particularly threatened by him.

“This was when his benefits had been stopped and he had hoped to get some money to put a £100 deposit down on a flat in Lyme Regis.

“He asked for the £100 for the flat. He asked on several occasions, during the same conversation, and each time more assertively.”

Mr Evans said he had warned one homeless man to stay away from Farrow because of his mood swings.

“When he was not around the other homeless men tended to come and he would be a topic of conversation,” he said. “They would be scared of him and his mood swings. When a new homeless man arrived I suggested he keep a safe distance from Mr Farrow.”

Jurors also heard evidence that Farrow claimed that a priest had sexually abused him as a child at a boarding school.

Farrow was also captured on CCTV in a Londis shop in Weymouth where he travelled after the death of Rev Suddards.

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