Alan Greaves: How widow of much loved family man battered to death on Sheffield street forgives killers

The wife of a Sheffield man battered to death on a Sheffield street forgives his killers
The wife of a Sheffield man battered to death on a Sheffield street forgives his killers

We take a look back at a crime which not only shocked Sheffield but the entire country.

A quiet, caring, much-loved family man was walking to church on Christmas Eve 2012 when he was targeted at random by thugs and beaten so badly he never recovered from his horrific injuries.

Instead of spending Christmas Day 2012 celebrating as a family, Alan Greaves' loved one were by his bedside willing him to regain consciousness.

But the 68-year-old was unable to be saved and the senseless attack triggered a murder probe.

The married father-of-four had been walking to St Saviour’s Church in High Green to play the organ for the Midnight Mass service, as he had done for the previous 40 years, when he was attacked.

Killer Jonathan Bowling was said to have chosen him at random “as a victim” and beat him about the head causing injuries “consistent with a road accident”.

Robert Smith QC, who prosecuted the case at Sheffield Crown Court, said that the murder of Mr Greaves was "a crime without motive". "He was killed for no reason other than he was identified as a suitable victim," he said.

Bowling, then aged 22 and of Carwood Way, Pitsmoor, admitted attacking Alan with a pickaxe handle and was jailed for life.

He was ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years behind bars.

The killer’s friend, Ashley Foster, also aged 22, of Wesley Road, High Green, who was with him at the time of the attack, was found guilty of manslaughter after a trial and sentenced to nine years behind bars.

He did not attack Mr Greaves but was found guilty on the basis that he was there.

They were seen running away laughing as Mr Greaves lay slumped on the ground after the attack.

Jailing the pair, Judge Mr Justice Nigel Teare described the attack as "gratuitous, reprehensible and horrific".

Mr Greaves’ wife, Maureen, a devout Christian, later revealed that she had forgiven his killers for their actions.

Explaining her reasons, she said she had forgiven them because she wanted to place them in the hands of God, for Him to judge them and guide them. She said she did not look at them with hatred, and that had meant she had been able to get on with her life in the wake of the murder. She said both she and her husband had always been strong advocates of forgiveness.

Explaining how forgiveness allows her to carry on, Maureen told The Star: "I think forgiveness is something we should all seek to make part of our lives.

"It sets you free – you lose that hatred, that burden you're carrying.

"I believe not showing forgiveness can do real damage in your life."

Watch our True Crime video on the shocking case here.