Ignore sympathy, Sheffield murder jury told

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A judge has told a jury to put aside any sympathy for the family of a church organist who was battered to death in Sheffield on Christmas Eve as he began summing up the trial of a man accused of the murder.

Ashley Foster, aged 22, is on trial at Sheffield Crown Court charged with murdering lay preacher Alan Greaves, 68, in the High Green area of the city.

Mr Justice Teare told the six men and six women on the jury: “It is impossible to learn of Alan Greaves’s death without feeling intense sympathy for his wife, Maureen, and her family in their tragic and unexpected loss.

“But you must put aside such feelings when deciding whether the Crown has proved the charge that has been brought against Ashley Foster.”

Over the last three weeks, the jury has heard Mr Greaves was walking to St Saviour’s Church, near his home, to play the organ for Midnight Mass when he was attacked.

He was severely beaten and died three days later in hospital.

Another 22-year-old man, Jonathan Bowling, has already admitted murdering the grandfather.

The prosecution claim Foster also took part in the attack which they say involved a pick-axe handle and another weapon, possibly a hammer.

Foster told the jury he did not attack Mr Greaves.

He said he shouted at Bowling to try and stop the attack and was some distance away when it was happening.

He claimed he did not tell the police what happened until two weeks later because he was scared of Bowling and his family.

Foster, of Wesley Road, High Green, denies murder.

The jury is expected to start its deliberations today.