EIGHT years ago this month, a rural community was in shock after a retired teacher was beaten with a walking stick and stabbed to death at her isolated cottage.

Pensioner Betty Yates, who had just turned 77 on December 28, was found dead in her home on the edge of Bewdley, on January 4 in 2012.

The community was at a loss to comprehend how anyone could have attacked the "vivacious, independent and popular person".

Her killer would turn out be a psychopathic drifter who threatened to kill "Christian scum"

Six weeks later Stephen Farrow would murder a vicar at his vicarage in Thornbury, Gloucestershire.

Betty had lived at her cottage Riverscroft for more than 30 years - seven years alone following the death of her husband Raymond.

She had taught locally at the former St John's Middle School and was well known for hosting book readings at her home and being a member of local art and walking groups.

Farrow, who claimed to be insane, struck Betty so hard on the head with a walking stick that the wood splintered.

He then stabbed her four times for "pleasure".

His claims of insanity were rubbished at his trial.

A friend raised the alarm after calling police to say she had not heard from Betty for some time.

When officers entered her cottage, which was off Dowles Road near the River Severn, they found her body downstairs.

Police found a knife at the scene, and a post-mortem examination by a Home Office pathologist revealed she died from a single stab wound.

Detectives believed she died between Monday (January 2) and Wednesday (January 4) morning.

In October later that year, Farrow confessed to murdering Betty to a mental health nurse.

However, he said he had not killed "the person" - assumed to mean Betty Yates - on January 1 because this was a Sunday, but had killed her the following day.

Farrow had spoken about the significance of the year 2012 - believing it would mark the start of the second coming of Christ.

Two days before the killing of Betty he sent a text message to a friend which said the "church would be the first to suffer"

He had previously travelled to Canterbury with the intention of killing the then Archbishop Rowan Williams but was put off by the level of security.

Reading a statement from Richard Evans, who assessed Farrow, prosecutor Michael Fitton QC said at his trial at Bristol Crown Court: "He said 'I didn't kill this person on January 1 because this was a Sunday, so killed her the following day'.

"This is the only account of Mr Farrow telling anyone about the killing of Betty Yates."

The barrister quoted the statement while questioning defence witness Dr Tim Rogers, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, who assessed Farrow on two separate occasions.

Dr Rogers said: "We have discussed at length how his account is not reliable."

Dr Rogers said that Farrow demonstrated many of the characteristics of a psychopath, including that he was a pathological liar.

He told the court that when he had tried to speak to Farrow about Betty's murder, he would refuse to talk about her.

The court heard Farrow denied being in the area at the time of her death but would refuse to say where he was.

Jurors at court heard that religion and the church had always played an important part in Farrow's life, although he felt scornful towards religious figures.

Farrow denied murdering Betty but admitted the manslaughter of Reverend John Suddards.

Rev Suddards, 59, was found dead at his vicarage in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, that February where a note was left threatening to kill "Christian scum".

Farrow was not present in court after refusing to leave Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire where he was held.

He was diagnosed with a long-standing personality disorder and was jailed for life for killing widow Mrs Yates, and for murdering the Rev Suddards.

On February 13 he turned up at the home of Mr Suddards and repeatedly stabbed him with a kitchen knife.

When the fatally injured vicar said he was going to die, Farrow swore and replied: "Hurry up and die."

In a grisly scene he placed a picture of Jesus Christ and a mirror on the floor by Mr Suddard's body.

Other items including gay pornography, party streamers and condoms were scattered around the corpse in an attempt to humiliate the clergyman.

He then went into the sitting room to have a beer and watch an Indiana Jones DVD.

Farrow was linked to the Thornbury murder by DNA evidence and a boot print, which was also found at Betty's home.

It emerged after the trial he had received a previous eight year term for attacking a widower with a knife.

She survived but Betty's family were alarmed Farrow had been released despite displaying psychotic tendencies.

Betty was survived by her son David and daughter Hazel.

As for double-killer Farrow he will die in prison, after a European court rejected a later appeal that a life sentence with no chance of release breached his human rights.