Church organist's murderer jailed for life

Alan Greaves(South Yorkshire Police/PA)

Jonathan Bowling has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of church organist Alan Greaves.

Greaves was attacked with a pick axe by Bowling, 22, and Ashley Foster, also 22, while walking to St Saviour's Church in High Green, Sheffield, last Christmas Eve. 

Foster was sentenced to nine years for manslaughter after being cleared of murder on Thursday.

Sentencing Bowling and Foster, Mr Justice Teare told them: "Why you wished to inflict violence on another human being on Christmas Eve is known only to you."

The judge said: "You chose your victim at random. Alan Greaves happened to be in front of you, on his way to serve the community, as he had always done, and you decided to inflict violence on him.

"Neither of you knew Alan Greaves. He had done nothing to provoke the attack on him.

"His wife, his family and his community have suffered a tragic and horrendous loss."

Mr Greaves' widow, Maureen, said she was "extremely pleased" with the sentences.

Speaking outside Sheffield Crown Court, she said: "I really am extremely pleased with the result today.

"To think Ashley's got nine years is the very best we could have got in the circumstances of the manslaughter.

"To think that Jonathan's got 25 minimum and to think he'll probably never come out, I really am wonderfully pleased with the result."

Canon Simon Bessant, vicar of St Saviour, said in a statement following Foster's conviction on Thursday that the congregation wanted "justice for Alan, not retribution".

"We have supported Maureen, and will continue to do so, during this terrible period," he said.

"We hope now that Alan can be left in peace and that Maureen and her family can move on in the heartbreak of bereavement."