Church organist murder

The murder trial is underway at Sheffield Crown Court of church organist Alan Greaves.

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Report: Murder suspect claims he tried to stop attack

A man accused of murdering a church organist in Sheffield has claimed he tried to stop the attack and played no part in the killing.

Ashley Foster is on trial accused of beating Alan Greaves to death last Christmas Eve - it was an attack which prompted a huge investigation by South Yorkshire Police.

But, today he told a jury that it was a man he was with - who's already admitted the killing - who twice hit Mr Greaves over the head with a pick axe handle. David Hirst reports.


Co-accused: I refused to hit Alan Greaves

A man accused of attacking church organist Alan Greaves on Christmas Eve says he refused to hit him.

Ashley Foster said he and Jonathan Bowling were walking alongside a park on Greengate Lane at High Green, near Sheffield, when Bowling told him to "go and hit that man there".

That man was retired social worker Mr Greaves who was walking from his home to St Saviour's Church to play the organ at midnight mass. Foster, who's taken to the witness stand for a second day, claims he told Bowling he would not hit the man.

Foster claims he ran off and Bowling followed him and threatened to kill him if he said anything about what had happened. Foster denies murdering Mr Greaves. Jonathan Bowling has already admitted killing the 68-year-old retired social worker.

"Jonno started running up towards the man, he pulled out a pick axe handle. I shouted no to stop him doing it. The man turned his head a bit. I was in shock, I wasn't able to move. Jonno was running fast. He jumped off the ground and smacked that man on the head. He hit him hard. All you could hear was a big bang sound. The man fell to the side onto the park fence and his head hit the ground. I couldn't move. The man tried to get up. Jonno swung the pick-axe handle above his head and brought it down onto the man's head as hard as the first one. The man fell back down."

– Ashley Foster

Video: Latest on church organist murder trial

A man accused of murdering the church organist Alan Greaves today told a jury he took no part in the brutal killing.

Ashley Foster was in the witness box on the first day of his defence at Sheffield Crown Court to claim he was scared of his co-defendent Jonathan Bowling, who has already admitted murdering Mr Greaves.

He died three days after he was attacked as he made his way to Midnight Mass near his home in High Green on Christmas Eve.

Murder suspect "shocked and scared" at organist attack

Murder suspect Ashley Foster told police he was "shocked and scared" when church organist Alan Greaves was attacked in the street - but claimed he took no part in it.

In a written statement to police on January 9th Foster said he'd gone to police with his mother and he was frightened about what might happen to him and his family.

"I am frightened of the person who did commit this offence. That person is Jonathan Bowling, also known as Jonno."

Alan Greaves Credit: South Yorkshire Police

Bowling has already admitted murdering Mr.Greaves. Foster has denied murder and is on trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

Foster's statement, which was read out in court by Detective Constable Stuart Hall, described the attack on Mr. Greaves.

Foster said he and Jonathan Bowling had gone for a walk and Bowling had collected a pick axe handle along the way. Foster noticed a man ahead of them.

"Jonathan went quickly ahead of me and without warning hit the man on the head with the pick ace handle," said Foster.

The man fell to the ground.

Bowling, he said, then hit the man again on top of his head while he was on the ground. The attack, he said, was over in a few seconds. "I offered no encouragement. I was shocked and scared."

The trial continues.

Mother of man accused of church organist: "he didn't do it"

The mother of a man accused of the murder of church organist Alan Greaves took to the witness box today - and said she recognised her son from CCTV released by South Yorkshire Police in the hunt for his killers.

Nicole Casey said her son Ashley Foster admitted being at the scene on Christmas Eve last year, but told her he had nothing to do with the brutal killing of the retired social worker.

It came on the day more distressing evidence of the ferocity of the attack was put before the jury, and Mr Greaves's family.


Mr Greaves' injuries could have been caused by two weapons, court told

Alan Greaves Credit: South Yorkshire police

A jury was told today that among his many injuries, church organist Alan Greaves suffered one like "a gunshot wound" when he was attacked on his way to midnight mass.

Home Office pathologist Dr Charles Wilson said he was taken aback by what he saw."Where I see this kind of injury is when a relatively sharp, heavy object has been used, such as an axe, a machete or a claw hammer,"said Dr Wilson.

He said Mr Greaves' injuries could have been caused by two weapons. The prosecution say Mr Greaves was attacked with a pick axe handle and another weapon which police never recovered.

Jonathan Bowling, who's 22, has admitted murdering Mr Greaves at High Green, near Sheffield, last Christmas Eve. On trial is Ashley Foster, also 22, who denies murder.

Dr. Wilson said Mr Greaves had suffered three severe blows to the skull and also had extensive facial injuries. Dr. Wilson said the face injuries could have been caused by punches and kicks.

He said the impact which had caused the head injuries was similar to that usually seen in road traffic collisions or in someone who had fallen from a high building.The trial continues.

Organist murder trial: defendant 'expressed his disgust' at attack

A police officer told a jury today how the alleged killer of church organist Alan Greaves approached him to express his disgust at the attack.PC Neil Helmsley said four days after the attack on Mr. Greaves he was on duty in Greengate Lane at High Green, Sheffield, close to the scene of the crime.

The officer said Ashley Foster (accused) struck up a conversation with him and said: "I hope whoever's done it gets hammered in prison".

Foster denies murdering Mr.Greaves, who was attacked as he walked to midnight mass last Christmas Eve, and died from his injuries three days later. Jonathan Bowling, who's 22, has already admitted killing the retired social worker.

The trial continues.

Murder trial hears how victim suffered 'catastrophic injuries'

A murder trial has been told how church organist Alan Greaves suffered brain injuries comparable to falling down a flight of stairs or being hit by a speeding car.Neurosurgeon Thomas Carroll said the 68-year-old retired social worker suffered catastrophic injuries and had little chance of survival.

He said Mr. Greaves' injuries could not be explained by him falling on the street. He said the injuries were similar to a "fall down a long flight of stairs, or a fall from a significant height, or a pedestriansustaining a high velocity traffic impact."

He said Mr Greaves died from multiple organ failure as a result of his brain injuries.On trial is 22-year-old Ashley Foster. He denies murder.Another 22-year-old, Jonathan Bowling, had pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr. Greaves, who was attacked last Christmas Eve.The case will continue next week.

Girlfriend of murder accused appears as witness

The girlfriend of a man acccused of murdering a church organist in Sheffield has told a court they were both scared of a man who has already admitted the killing.

Natalie Evers has been giving evidence at the trial of Ashley Foster who's accused of murdering Alan Greaves. Jonathan Bowling has pleaded guilty.

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