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Accused describes organist attack

A man accused of murdering a church organist on Christmas Eve has told a jury how he saw the man he was with hit the grandfather twice over the head with a pick-axe handle.

Ashley Foster, 22, told Sheffield Crown Court how he shouted "no" as Jonathan Bowling ran towards lay preacher Alan Greaves. The jury has heard how Mr Greaves, 68, was walking from his home in the High Green area of Sheffield to play the organ at midnight mass at St Saviours Church when he was attacked.

Foster told the jury how Bowling caught up with the pensioner, pulled a pick-axe handle out of his trousers and hit him with it.

The defendant showed the jury an area above his right eye-brow where he said the blow struck Mr Greaves. Asked about the force of the blow, he said: "Hard, hard."

Foster said Mr Greaves fell to the floor and Bowling also fell over. He said: "As the pick-axe hit his head, all I could hear is a big bang sound." But Foster told the court: "Jonno (Bowling) got up. He picked the axe up. That man tried to get up. He managed to get himself up."

Foster described how Bowling hit Mr Greaves again. "He swung it down," he said. "He (the victim) fell back down. I tried to move but I wasn't really functioning."

Bowling, 22, has already admitted killing the grandfather, but prosecutors allege Foster also took part in the attack. Foster gave evidence for a second day on Wednesday supported by an intermediary.

The jury has heard that Mr Greaves sustained "grave and catastrophic" head injuries in the attack on him, and he died in hospital three days later. Prosecutors say he was hit with a pick-axe handle and another weapon, possibly a hammer.

Foster, of Wesley Road, High Green, denies one count of murder. The jury has been told that Bowling, of Carwood Way, Pitsmoor, Sheffield, has already admitted murdering Mr Greaves.

Mr Greaves's widow, Maureen, watched Foster give evidence from the public gallery, along with other members of her family.

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