Extensive manhunt leads to arrest of killers

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Following the brutal attack on Alan Greaves, South Yorkshire Police launched an extensive manhunt for his killers.

Officers conducted house-to-house enquiries, while scenes of crime officers combed the area for evidence.

On Christmas Day, it was discovered two pick axes had gone missing from a shed at High Green Methodist Church.

A pick axe handle was later found in a cupboard at Jonathan Bowling’s sister’s flat in Foxhill, while a second was discovered on wasteland behind a garage near the scene of the killing.

Police visited homes in the Greengate Lane area and asked homeowners and businesses for their CCTV – and it was the CCTV footage which proved crucial.

After watching hours and hours of grainy footage officers from South Yorkshire Police released a clip to the media on January 7.

It was taken from a camera on South Road and showed Ashley Foster and Bowling walking along Greengate Lane shortly before the killing. The footage was broadcast on the news and featured in The Star – and Foster and Bowling were immediately recognised by family and friends.

The court heard Foster’s girlfriend Natalie Evers rang his mother that night and told her Foster was sitting on his bed crying, shaking, asking for her. When he got to his mum’s home, he told her Bowling was responsible for the murder.

The damage to the grey fleece cap Alan Greaves was wearing at the time of the attack was central to the prosecution case.

Prosecution forensic scientist Samantha Warner said the damage was caused by a sharp implement, such as a claw hammer or a double-headed crowbar, because of two parallel, crescent shaped cuts on its peak.

Defence forensic scientist Gillian Leak said she believed the damage was caused by something ‘linear with a curved edge’ such as the pick axe handle. The scientists also disagreed over blood found on the green, wrought-iron park railings which were brought into court.

Miss Warner said blood was ‘impact spatter’ caused by a blow to an already bleeding wound suffered by Mr Greaves – indicating several blows – whereas Mrs Leak said she believed the spatter was caused by Mr Greaves exhaling blood and waving around a blood-soaked glove.

A piece of the murder weapon, a pick axe handle, was found embedded in Mr Greaves’ skull.

The handle from which the piece was missing had Mr Greaves’ and Bowling’s DNA on it.

The second pick axe handle could not be linked to Foster or Bowling forensically, but Miss Warner said she could not exclude the possibility they had touched it.

Vicious killing: Timetable of events

2012

December 24 - Alan Greaves fatally attacked as he walks along Greengate Lane, High Green, to St Saviour’s Church

December 25 - Jonathan Bowling taken to hospital after putting his fist through a window

December 27 - Alan Greaves dies in hospital shortly before midnight

2013

January 7 - Police release CCTV footage of two men they want to speak to in connection with the killing

January 8 - Ashley Foster hands himself in to the police. He is arrested on suspicion of murder

January 9 - Jonathan Bowling is arrested on suspicion of murder

January 9 - Ashley Foster and Jonathan Bowling are charged with Mr Greaves’ murder

January 10 - Foster and Bowling appear at Sheffield Magistrates Court

June 7 - Jonathan Bowling admits murdering Mr Greaves at Sheffield Crown Court

June 25 - Trial of Ashley Foster begins at Sheffield Crown Court

July 16 - Jury sent out to deliberate verdict

Yesterday – Foster is found guilty of manslaughter

Today – Foster and Bowling sentenced for the killing of Alan Greaves.