Murdered family man may have known his killer, say detectives

A DEDICATED family man murdered on his way home from work is unlikely to have been the victim of a random attack by a complete stranger, police say.

Victim Simon Holdsworth, aged 36, from Hackenthorpe.

South Yorkshire Police has urged friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances of 36-year-old Simon Holdsworth to get in touch, as they try to establish the fullest possible picture of his life.

Mr Holdsworth’s body was discovered in a field near his home in Hackenthorpe, Sheffield, on December 17, and police believe he may have been attacked with a blunt object.

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He had been working extra hours to buy presents for his fiancée and his stepson Tiarnan, who turned four on Christmas Eve. The keen Sheffield Wednesday fan was due to marry his partner later this year and was trying to save money for their honeymoon.

Temporary Detective Superintendent Phil Etheridge, who is leading the investigation, said: “We have already appealed to those who may have seen anything suspicious in the Birley Spa Lane area of Sheffield, or those who travelled on the bus with Simon as he made his final journey back to Hackenthorpe, to get in touch with us.

“However, we are now widening that appeal in a bid to find out as much as we can about Simon’s life.

“We are keeping an open mind regarding a motive for this brutal murder. However, it remains the case that, while we cannot eliminate it totally, it is unlikely that this was a random attack carried out by a complete stranger.

“We are therefore seeking to discover who has done this to Simon, and why.

“In order to do this, we need to speak to all those who knew him in all spheres of his life, whether this be through work, his love of fishing, his following of Sheffield Wednesday or his personal life.”

The body of Mr Holdsworth, from Hackenthorpe, was found in a field off Birley Spa Lane, at about 6.30am on December 17. Police say he had finished work at FBS Prestige in Intake, where he was as a sprayer, at 10.55pm the previous day.

A colleague gave him a lift from their workplace to a bus stop in Mansfield Road, close to the Noah’s Ark pub, where Mr Holdsworth got on the number 120 First Bus shortly after 11pm.

He got off that bus at his usual stop, near the Hogs Head pub, around 10 minutes later.

However, he never made it home. His body was found by a member of the public the following morning.

A post-mortem examination revealed he died from head injuries which may have been inflicted with a blunt object.

Mr Etheridge added: “We know a lot about Simon’s life. We know he was due to get married next summer and he was looking forward to the wedding, having booked the time off work for his honeymoon on the day he died.

“We also know he worked hard both as a sprayer and for himself, as he was keen to set up his own fishing tackle business.

“He would spend most weekends following Sheffield Wednesday home and away, and was a season ticket holder at Hillsborough.

“However, I would still appeal to all those who were part of Simon’s world to call us. The information they hold, however apparently insignificant, could be the key to finding whoever has done this to him.”

At a press conference last month, Mr Holdsworth’s partner Carleen McKeown made an appeal for public help in finding her partner’s killer or killers. She said: “Simon was a good man. He loved his football and he loved fishing but, most of all, he was a family man.

“He had played football and gone sledging on that field, as well as walking through it regularly on his way home from work.”

His mother Christine Holdsworth said: “You protect your children all your life and the one time he really needed me, I wasn’t there.

“Simon was a loving, caring, bubbly man with a smile for everyone. We are such a close family and he was over the moon to be getting married.”

Witnesses should call 101, quoting incident number 149 of 17 December 2013, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.