Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Van seized in vicar murder hunt

Police investigating the murder of a clergyman at his vicarage seized a white van just hours after arresting a man, it has been reported.

The Rev John Suddards, 59, was found stabbed to death at his home on Castle Street in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, on Tuesday. Detectives from Avon and Somerset Police arrested a 43-year-old man on suspicion of murder on Tuesday evening and he remains in custody.

The white Citroen van was lifted on to a low-loader and taken away from a property in Knapp Road - around a mile from the vicarage - at about 11.30pm on Tuesday, the Western Daily Press reported. It is believed a man in his 40s had been sleeping in the van. Officers were searching the house and grounds around the property in Knapp Road on Thursday.

A police spokeswoman said: "Searches are standard in any police investigation, especially one of this nature. The public and the media should expect nothing less."

Detectives investigating the murder are trying to put together a picture of Mr Suddards' personal and social life and are believed to have contacted clergy at his former parish.

The alarm was raised by workmen who arrived at the vicarage next to St Mary's Church on Tuesday morning and realised it was locked. The news sent shockwaves through the clergy and the close-knit community, which lies about 11 miles north of Bristol.

In a statement released by police, the vicar's family said: "We are devastated with the news of John's untimely and shocking death, so we would appreciate being left in peace at this time while we struggle to come to terms with what has happened."

The St Mary's vicar took up his post only last July, having come from the diocese of Chelmsford in Essex. Former barrister Mr Suddards moved to the area after serving at St Nicolas Church in Witham, Essex, since 2001 and before that at Great Yeldham parish, 20 miles away.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Crisp said: "We are determined to bring whoever is responsible for the Reverend's death to justice."

Later, police said they had been granted another 24 hours to question the suspect in custody.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph