A man accused of murdering Sheffield church organist Alan Greaves on Christmas Eve told a jury he was ‘nowhere near’ the grandfather at the time of the fatal attack.
Ashley Foster, aged 22, told a jury at Sheffield Crown Court he did see Jonathan Bowling – who has admitted murder – hit Mr Greaves over the head twice with a pickaxe handle on Greengate Lane, High Green.
He claimed he shouted ‘no’ loudly as Bowling, also 22, ran towards Mr Greaves with the weapon which he’d hidden down his trousers.
“He jumped and smacked that man on the side, here,” said Foster, indicating an area above his right eyebrow where the blow hit 68-year-old Mr Greaves.
Asked how hard Bowling struck Mr Greaves, he said: “Really hard.”
Foster said: “As the pickaxe handle hit his head, all I could hear was like a big bang sound.”
Foster said Mr Greaves fell to the ground, and Bowling also fell over.
He said Mr Greaves tried to get up and was sitting up against the park railings, when Bowling swung the weapon with both hands back over his head and brought it down again.
“The man fell back down,” he said.
Asked by his barrister Adrian Waterman QC if he’d had a weapon himself that night, Foster replied: “No.”
Asked if he or Bowling had a hammer, he also replied: “No.”
Then he was asked if he had hit Mr Greaves.
Foster, of Wesley Road, High Green, who denies murder, said: “No, I was nowhere near him.”
Describing the moments before the attack, Foster said Bowling had told him to hit the man walking ahead of them on the street, but Foster claimed he’d said, ‘I’m not hitting no-one’.
Foster said Bowling was angry and aggressive, and had been threatening to hit another man over the head with a hammer after a family row. Foster said he’d taken Bowling for a walk to calm him down and that he was ‘scared’ of him.
The trial continues.