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Police seek organist's killer

04 January 2013


POLICE in South Yorkshire are continuing to appeal for witnesses to the brutal attack on Christmas Eve of Alan Greaves, an organist and Reader, as he walked to the midnight communion service at St Saviour's, High Green, Mortomley, near Sheffield, where he was due to play the organ.

Mr Greaves (right) had left his home in High Green at about 11 p.m. for the short walk to the church. He was discovered 15 minutes later, lying on the road, with serious head injuries. He died two days later in Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.

Two men arrested on suspicion of murder on Saturday were released on police bail the following day, pending further enquiries.

Mr Greaves's widow, Maureen, a Church Army evangelist, attended a packed service at St Saviour's last Sunday, and thanked the congregation for its support and prayers.

"I have prayed constantly for Alan, and I know that you have, too. I have never stopped crying for Alan, and I know that you have never stopped crying with me. I have grieved over the evil that has been done; and I know that you, too, have grieved over the evil that has been done. And I have prayed for you, and I know that you have prayed for me."

Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick is leading the investigation for South Yorkshire Police. They are keeping an open mind about the attack. "We cannot think of a motive why anybody would want to attack Mr Greaves. . . This individual could come from the local community or could come from further afield."

The police do not know whether Mr Greaves was attacked by an individual or a group, or what weapon might have been used. Robbery has not been ruled out as a motive; but Mr Fenwick said: "We are not aware of anything missing from Mr Greaves at this time."

Part of a metal fence near the site of the attack on Mr Greaves has been removed by police for forensic examination. And officers are studying CCTV footage taken from homeowners and businesses.

Patrols have been stepped up in High Green, as police maintain a high-profile presence in the area. "High Green is a very close-knit community and the attack on Mr Greaves is fairly unique in terms of the viciousness that was used," the district police commander, Chief Superintendent Shaun Morley, said.

The Vicar of St Saviour's, Canon Simon Bessant, said that Mr Greaves had served the people of Sheffield both in his professional life as a social worker and through voluntary community work. He played the piano in a local primary school, and carried out visiting in the parish. "I can only find one word to describe Alan, and that is to say that he is a good man."

"It is hard to understand how this could happen on Christmas Eve night on what was a main road. It was a bus route. It's outside a local school. This wasn't some dark alleyway. It happened only about 300 metres away from the church. He very nearly made it."

He continued: "There has been huge upset in the church family and in the wider community. There is a lot of shock out there."

The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, wrote to the clergy in the diocese urging them to pray for Mr Greaves's family, the church at High Green, and the Church Army.

After attending last Sunday's service at St Saviour's, he spoke to Sky News to pay tribute to Mr Greaves's widow: "Maureen has been impressive and courageous throughout this week. . . The city and High Green have lost a good man and a shining light. Of course, murder is terrible whoever it happens to, but there is particular grief and outrage that it should be Alan."

The CEO of the Church Army, Mark Russell, said: "I knew Alan really well. This is a couple who worked in probably one of the most deprived parts of Sheffield. They were just servant-hearted, phenomenal community people, who just recently set up a food bank on that estate."

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation is asked to contact South Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


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