THE fiancée of a “dedicated family man” murdered on his way home from work today told how his death had “ripped his family apart” as she issued a heartfelt appeal to help catch his killer.
Carleen McKeown held back tears as she spoke at a press conference held after the “horrific” murder of her partner Simon Holdsworth in the Hackenthorpe area of Sheffield on Monday night.
Mr Holdsworth, 36, had been working extra hours to buy presents for Ms McKeown and his step-son Tiarnan, who will turn four on Christmas Eve.
The keen Sheffield Wednesday fan was due to marry his partner next year and was trying to save money for their honeymoon, the press conference was told.
Police said Mr Holdsworth was following his routine journey home from work at the paint-spraying company late on Monday night and there was no obvious motive for why he had apparently been set upon by one or more people.
His body was found by a member of the public at 6.30am on Tuesday and a post-mortem showed Mr Holdsworth died from severe head injuries as a result of an assault.
Ms McKeown said: “Simon was my rock. He was a bright shining light in my life. We were so happy as a family with our son, it would have been his fourth birthday on Christmas Eve.
“We had already done Christmas shopping, his presents were wrapped but his daddy won’t be there to open them.
“This has ripped us all apart. When we got the house it was a safe area. I have lived in the area for years. The field was dark but it was a safe area.
“I don’t know who hurt him but if anyone knows anything please help us. Even if it is something you don’t think is a significant piece of information, please tell the police.
“I don’t hate the person that has done this because Simon was warmth and Simon was love. I just want to know why, why did this happen.”
Mr Holdsworth’s mother Christine also paid tribute to her son, describing him as a “lovely, lovely son” who “was always there if anyone needed help, always there on the frontline”.
She added: “Simon would never hurt anyone and I can’t understand why someone would want to hurt Simon.
“Please search your heart and your conscience, if you can help in any way please come forward.”
Police today issued CCTV footage of the bus which Mr Holdsworth got off shortly before he was attacked.
Temporary Detective Superintendent Phil Etheridge, who is leading the inquiry, appealed for local residents in the Hackenthorpe area to search their gardens for weapons, clothing or anything else unusual that might have been discarded by the killers.
He said: “The future Simon and Carleen had planned with one another has been destroyed. Two families have been visited by tragedy and their lives will never be the same.
“The community of Hackenthorpe has been shocked by Simon’s murder. Someone, somewhere knows what happened to Simon and most importantly why.”
Tributes have flowed in on social media, including Sheffield Wednesday fans’ forums, with many who either knew or recognised Mr Holdsworth as a regular supporter expressing shock and sadness at his brutal death.
T/Det Supt Etheridge has appealed for members of the public to get in touch if they saw Mr Holdsworth from 11pm onwards on Monday night as he attempted to make his way home after leaving work in Intake.
He also wants to hear from anyone who might have heard anything out of the ordinary, such as raised voices, shouting, or increased vehicle movements, in Birley Spa Lane from around 11.10pm that night.
He said: “We know that Mr Holdsworth got a lift from a colleague from his workplace to the bus stop close to the Noah’s Ark pub in Mansfield Road.
“He got on the number 120 bus at around 11pm, as was usual. Around 10 minutes later the bus would have stopped in Birley Spa Lane, close to the Hogs Head pub, where he usually got off.
“But, tragically, Mr Holdsworth never made it home that night. His body was found the following morning in a field off Birley Spa Lane, just a short walk from where he would have got off the bus.”
A post-mortem examination found that Mr Holdsworth died from severe head injuries, likely to be the result of an assault.
He was around 5ft 9ins tall and of a slim to medium build. He had short dark hair and wore glasses. He was last seen wearing paint-spattered grey jogging bottoms, white Adidas trainers and a dark blue one-piece body warmer, with lighter blue sleeves and a hood.
Witnesses should call 101, quoting incident number 149 of 17 December 2013. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.