Accused told police he didn’t kill church organist

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A man accused of murdering Sheffield church organist Alan Greaves told police he didn’t kill the pensioner.

Ashley Foster gave a series of ‘no comment’ police interviews but provided officers with a prepared written statement about the circumstances of the High Green killing.

Foster, aged 22, was arrested after he went to Ecclesfield police station on January 7 with his mother - the day after CCTV footage of two suspects wanted in connection with the Christmas Eve attack was released to the media by police.

Foster’s co-defendant Jonathan Bowling, also 22, has admitted murdering Mr Greaves.

DC Stuart Hall from South Yorkshire Police was asked to read Foster’s statement to the jury at Sheffield Crown Court.

In it Foster said he’d been with Jonathan Bowling at his home in High Green but there had been an argument and he’d taken Bowling out for a walk to calm him down after he threatened to attack another man with a hammer.

Foster said he and Bowling had gone to look for Foster’s father at his home and in the Queen’s Head pub but had been unable to find him.

He said they were near ‘the Welfare’ when Bowling went behind a privet hedge and came back carrying a pick axe.

Bowling removed the axe head and put the pick axe handle down his trousers, said Foster.

Foster said shortly afterwards they saw a man walking along Greengate Lane.

He said: “A man was walking on his own. Jonathan went quickly ahead and without warning, hit the man on the head with the pick axe handle. The man fell to the ground.

“Jonathan fell down too. He then hit the man again on the top of his head whilst the man was on the ground.

He added: “It happened very quickly. It was all over in a few seconds. I offered no encouragement, I was shocked and scared.

“I ran home.”

“Jonathan was going to give the pick axe handle to his brother to put in a woodchipper.”

Foster told police he was scared for the safety of his family.

He said: “Jono has made repeated threats about what he would do to me and my family if I tell the police.”

He told me: “If you say owt, that’s me being normal. Imagine me being sick.”

DC Hall said when he charged Foster with Mr Greaves’ murder, he swore and said: “I didn’t murder him.”

The trial continues.