Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Alan Greaves murder: Ashley Foster describes killing

Alan Greaves
Image caption The 68-year-old died three days after he was attacked on his way to church

A man accused of murdering a church organist has told how he saw the man he was with hit the grandfather twice over the head with a pick-axe handle.

Alan Greaves, 68, was set upon while he was walking to St Saviour's Church, in High Green, Sheffield, on 24 December.

Ashley Foster, 22, denies murder. Jonathan Bowling, also 22, has admitted killing Mr Greaves.

Mr Foster told Sheffield Crown Court how he shouted "no" as Jonathan Bowling ran towards Mr Greaves.

The 68-year-old was on his way to play the organ at midnight mass when he was attacked. He sustained "grave and catastrophic" head injuries and died in hospital three days later, the jury has heard.

Prosecutors said he was hit with a pick-axe handle and another weapon, possibly a hammer.

'Big bang sound'

The defendant told the jury how Mr Bowling caught up with the organist, pulled a pick-axe handle out of his trousers and hit him with it.

"He swung it back," Mr Foster said.

"He jumped and... smacked that man on the side, here."

Mr Foster, of Wesley Road, High Green, showed the jury an area above his right eye brow where he said the blow struck the victim.

Image caption Alan Greaves' wife Maureen was in court to hear Ashley Foster give evidence

When asked about the force of the blow, he replied: "Hard, hard."

Mr Greaves fell to the floor and Mr Bowling also fell over, the defendant said.

He told the court: "As the pick-axe hit his head, all I could hear is a big bang sound."

'Swung it down'

Mr Foster described how Bowling, of Carwood Way, Pitsmoor, Sheffield, hit the grandfather again.

"He swung it down," he said.

"He [the victim] fell back down."

Mr Foster said he "was in shock" and then started to run home.

He said he was panicking and wanted to get home to ring the police but Mr Bowling caught up with him.

The pair returned to Mr Foster's house and he told no-one about the incident. Mr Bowling stayed at his house for Christmas Day, Mr Foster said.

He told the court he could not eat his Christmas dinner "knowing what he'd done".

Mr Foster gave evidence for a second day supported by an intermediary.

Prosecutors allege he also took part in the attack. Mr Foster denies one count of murder.

Mr Greaves's widow, Maureen, watched the defendant give evidence from the public gallery, along with other members of her family.

The trial continues.

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