Alan beaten with a pickaxe

Flowers for murdered Alan Greaves in Greengate Lane, High Green, Sheffield. Picture Chris Lawton    31/12/12
Flowers for murdered Alan Greaves in Greengate Lane, High Green, Sheffield. Picture Chris Lawton 31/12/12
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Two men who battered a church organist to death as he walked to midnight mass in Sheffield on Christmas Eve were heard laughing after the attack, a court heard.

Alan Greaves, aged 68, was set upon as he walked to St Saviour’s Church in High Green last December 24.

Police search the park area adjacent to  the scene where 68 year old Alan Greaves was attacked in Greengate Lane, High Green, Sheffield.  Mr Greaves has now died from the injuries he recieved during the attack.  28 December 2012.  picture Bruce Rollinson

Police search the park area adjacent to the scene where 68 year old Alan Greaves was attacked in Greengate Lane, High Green, Sheffield. Mr Greaves has now died from the injuries he recieved during the attack. 28 December 2012. picture Bruce Rollinson

He died in the city’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital three days later from ‘grave and catastrophic’ head injuries, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Robert Smith QC said Mr Greaves was attacked on Mortomley Lane, by Jonathan Bowling and Ashley Foster, both 22, as he walked to the church to play the organ - something he had done every Christmas Eve for the last 40 years.

Mr Smith said the pair were looking for someone to attack and used a pickaxe handle and another sharp weapon, possibly a hammer, to bludgeon Mr Greaves to death.

They were spotted by two youths minutes afterwards, who heard them laughing in Mortomley Park.

Other witnesses told police they ‘appeared normal’ when they got home.

Mr Smith said: “Christmas Eve 2012 began for Mr Greaves in the way it had always done.

“He left his home carrying his briefcase and leaving his wife, children and friends there. He was never to return home.

“In the course of his journey, he was set upon and savagely beaten to the head with such force he suffered unsurvivable head injuries.”

Bowling of Wesley Road, High Green has admitted murder, but Foster, of Carwood Way, Pitsmoor, denies it.

He admits being with Bowling, but claims he played ‘no part’ in the murder.

Mr Smith said Foster and Bowling picked their spot for the attack – a dimly-lit area where a street light was not working.

He said: “There Mr greaves was set upon by one or both of them and the prosecution case is that both men are party to an agreement they would inflict serious injuries to Mr Greaves using a heavy weapon – a pickaxe handle and another, unidentified weapon.

“The attack was more than momentary.”

A pathologist found Mr Greaves’ injuries were inflicted with such force they were consistent with someone falling from height or being involved in a car accident.

Most of the bones in his face were fractured along with his skull and the right side of his head hit so hard the bones splintered.

A fragment was found on the pavement at the scene.

Mr Smith said a few days later Foster approached a police officer guarding the scene and said the attack was ‘a disgrace’ adding whoever had done it should ‘get hammered in prison for beating up an old man’.

Mr Smith said nothing was stolen and robbery did not appear to be the motive.

He said Bowling and Foster were ‘virtually brothers’ and on the afternoon of Christmas Eve had been drinking lager and spirits.

At 10pm, they went outafter an argument about Foster’s girlfriend, during which Bowling picked up a hammer.

Mr Smith said police later recovered a pickaxe handle from a cupboard at Bowling’s sister’s home.

He said a fragment of wood embedded in Mr Greaves’s head had been forensically matched to the weapon.

But scientific analysis of the pensioner’s damaged grey hat showed a second, sharper weapon must have been used too.

Mr Smith told the jury that the murder was a joint enterprise.

He said CCTV showed the men together at the place and time of the attack and use of two weapons pointed to both being responsible.

He told the jury: “In short, the prosecution say these two men were walking the streets looking for a suitable victim.

The trial continues.

Our reporter will be tweeting live updates from court today follow @sheffieldstar #murdertrial on Twitter.

We will also be updating www.thestar.co.uk throughout the day.

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