Widow prays for her husband’s killers

26 July 2013


Forgiving: Maureen Greaves

Forgiving: Maureen Greaves

MAUREEN GREAVES, the widow of the church organist who was murdered as he walked to midnight mass last year, has prayed that his killers will find forgiveness (News, 31 December).

Ashley Foster, aged 22, was found guilty last week of the manslaughter of Alan Greaves, who was 68. 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. Mr Foster claimed that he had simply watched the ferocious attack by Bowling.

On Friday, Mr Bowling was jailed for life, with a minimum tariff of 25 years. Mr Foster was jailed for nine years.

Speaking outside Sheffield Crown Court after the sentences had been passed down, Mrs Greaves, a Church Army evangelist in Sheffield, said that she was "extremely pleased" with the result. "Our lives will never be the same again," she said. "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.

"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."

Mrs Greaves went on to say that "God never intended this life for them. I do hope that they, too, can find God's love for themselves."

Mrs Greaves was given a handwritten letter of remorse from Mr Bowling, just before he was sentenced. She has decided not to read it, but has given it to Det. Supt Matt Fenwick, who led the investigation into Mr Greaves's murder, for safekeeping, in case she changes her mind in the future.

Det. Supt Fenwick praised Mrs Greaves's "great strength and dignity", and described the investigation as "long and complex".

"Alan Greaves suffered an appalling, extremely violent, and totally unprovoked attack as he walked to church," he said. "In a matter of minutes, Jonathan Bowling and Ashley Foster had left an innocent man for dead."

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."

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