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  1. ITV Report

Man found guilty of manslaughter over church organist Alan Greaves' killing

Alan Greaves was attacked on Christmas Eve on his way to midnight mass. Photo:

A man has been found guilty of the manslaughter of church organist Alan Greaves on Christmas Eve in Sheffield.

Ashley Foster, 22, was cleared of murder by a jury at Sheffield Crown Court.

The 68-year-old was attacked with a pick-axe handle as he made his way to St Saviour's Church in High Green.

Another man, Jonathan Bowling, also 22, had earlier admitted murdering Mr Greaves.

Both men will be sentenced on Friday.

Ashley Foster (l) and Jonathan Bowling (r) Credit: South Yorkshire Police

There was confusion in court when the clerk only asked the jury foreman whether he was guilty of murder.

When the foreman said "not guilty" there were celebrations from Foster's family.

But as Mr Greaves's widow Maureen looked shocked and confused, the jury foreman, who had already been asked to sit, shouted "but guilty of manslaughter".

Speaking outside court, Mrs Greaves said "justice has been done for the actions taken for the murder of an innocent man".

She added: "Alan was a man driven by love and compassion and he would not want any of us to hold on to feelings of hate and unforgiveness".

My prayer is that Jonathan Bowling and Ashley Foster will come to understand and experience the love and kindness of the God who made him in his own image and that God's great mercy will inspire them to true repentance.

– Alan Greaves widow, Maureen

Det Supt Matt Fenwick from South Yorkshire Police, who led the investigation into the lay preacher's death, said he suffered an "appalling" and "totally unprovoked" attack.

"I can only hope that today's verdict will bring some solace" to Alan Greaves' family, he added.

Det Supt Matt Fenwick from South Yorkshire Police

Canon Simon Bessant, vicar of St Saviour’s Church also welcomed the manslaughter verdict, and said:

"Alan was intending to celebrate the coming of light at Christmas, yet he himself was the victim of darkness just a few minutes away from doors of the church."

Alan Greaves was attacked as he walked to St Saviour’s Church in High Green. Credit: Press Association

Before today's verdict, ITV News Correspondent Damon Green interviewed Maureen Greaves.

The Church Army evangelist spoke of her deepest regret and how her husband helped her forgive those responsible for his death: