Organist killer’s face “known all across country”

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THE widow of murdered church organist Alan Greaves says one of his killers will continue to be punished after he finishes his nine-year prison sentence because of his notoriety around the country.

Maureen Greaves, who was recently recognised in the inaugural Yorkshire Post Christmas Honours for the bravery she showed after the death of her husband, has told of her battle to forgive the two men who attacked the 68-year-old lay preacher on his way to church near his Sheffield home on Christmas Eve 2012.

Maureen Greaves

Maureen Greaves

Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 yesterday, Mrs Greaves said she feared this act of forgiveness made it appear that she did not want Jonathan Bowling and Ashley Foster to be punished severely for the brutal murder.

The 64-year-old said: “One of the things I have found a little bit difficult is that people have a sense sometimes that forgiving them perhaps means I am being a bit light about what these two men have done and their punishment. It is not that at all.

“I have wanted justice from the moment I was called out by the police and when I saw Alan on the bed, his head was absolutely shocking and I knew he was going to die. I wanted justice for Alan all the way through the trial.

“Forgiveness does not mean that I don’t want justice and I am not in a sense happy and at peace that they are in prison for what they have done.

“For me, these two men did a very evil act although I don’t want to call them evil men because I don’t know them. They did an evil act that needed, in a sense, punishment. They needed to face the consequences of what they did.”

After admitting murder, Bowling, 23, was given a life sentence and told to serve a minimum of 25 years in jail, while Foster, 22, was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter and jailed for nine years. Mrs Greaves said: “We hoped as a family for a longer sentence than nine years but the reason we have settled for the nine years is, with it being a very public trial, Ashley’s face is now known across the country.

“When he comes out of prison he will be recognised and I feel with my family that his sentence will be served outside of prison because he will be recognised.”

It emerged during the court case that Bowling, who attacked Mr Greaves with a pick-axe handle late on Christmas Eve as the father-of-four walked to a Midnight Mass service, had written the lay preacher’s widow a letter from prison.

Though Mrs Greaves said in December she had not yet read what her husband’s killer had written, she has since absorbed the letter’s contents.

She said: “The only thing I want to say about the letter is that I read it with Matt Fenwick, the detective in charge of the investigation, and together we thought about what he had written.

“I will be writing to the probation service this very day to pass a letter onto Jonathan. All I will put in the letter is ‘I have read your letter and thank you for it’.”

On Christmas Eve Mrs Greaves marked the attack on her husband, a year on, by taking part in a special service with her family near the spot where the brutal beating took place.

She told last month how her husband’s death had brought together his local community and encouraged neighbours to volunteer for the food bank and shop the couple opened weeks before he died.

She said the reaction of residents in the High Green area of Sheffield showed some good had come out of the tragedy which shocked the country.

Mrs Greaves now plans to carry on the work she started with her husband by holding a weekly ‘community family meal’ for those in need and will start a micro-lending scheme she hopes will lead to the establishment of a fully-fledged credit union.

The former social worker, who started the community project at her home with her husband before moving it to a nearby shop, said she was now getting local volunteers coming forward “who probably wouldn’t have volunteered before”.

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