Widow forgives organist's killers
THE widow of the church organist who was murdered as he walked
to church on Christmas Eve last year has prayed that his killers
will find forgiveness (News,
Ashley Foster, 22, was found guilty this week of the
manslaughter of 68-year-old Alan Greaves. Jonathan Bowling, also
22, had earlier pleaded guilty to murder. The court heard that the
pair had been walking the streets looking for somebody to attack.
Foster claimed that he had simply watched the ferocious attack by
SOUTH YORKSHIRE POLICE/PA
Credit: SOUTH YORKSHIRE POLICE/PA
Sentencing was on Friday. Bowling was jailed for life, with a
minimum tariff of 25 years. Foster was jailed for nine years.
Speaking outside Sheffield Crown Court, after Foster's
conviction, 63-year-old Maureen Greaves described Alan as "a
wonderful man who is so dearly missed". Supported by her family,
she said: "our lives will never be the same again.
"Alan was a man who was driven by love and compassion, and he
would not want any of us to hold on to feelings of hate and
unforgiveness. So, in honour of Alan, and in honour of the God that
we both love, my prayer is that this story doesn't end today," she
said. "My prayer is that Jonathan Bowling and Ashley Foster will
come to understand and experience the love and kindness of the God
who made them in his own image, and that God's great mercy will
inspire both of them to true repentance."
The police officer who led the investigation into Alan Greaves'
murder, Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, praised Mrs
Greaves's "great strength and dignity". He described the
investigation as a "long and complex inquiry".
And he said: "Alan Greaves suffered an appalling, extremely
violent and totally unprovoked attack as he walked to church. In a
matter of minutes, Jonathan Bowling and Ashley Foster had left an
innocent man for dead."
The Revd Canon Simon Bessant, Vicar of St Saviour's, High Green,
where Mr Greaves was walking to play the organ when he was
attacked, said: "We condemn absolutely the evil attack upon Alan.
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 . . . invested most of his life in the service of the
people of Sheffield, having helped open a foodbank just weeks
before his murder."
Maureen and Alan Greaves worked as Church Army evangelists in
Sheffield. The mission agency's chief executive, Mark Russell, said
that staff at the Church Army had been "shocked and devastated"
since Alan's murder.
"I would like to pay tribute to Maureen, who, over the past
months, has shown such enormous courage and faith through a really
dreadful time. . . It has been a privilege to be with her and
support her during the trial."