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Woman charged with murder of church warden in Co-op attack

Zara Anne Radcliffe, 29, will appear in court accused of murdering 88-year-old John Rees and the attempted murder of three others.

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The incident took place on Tuesday (Ben Birchall/PA)

The incident took place on Tuesday (Ben Birchall/PA)

The incident took place on Tuesday (Ben Birchall/PA)

A 29-year-old woman has been charged with the murder of an elderly church warden and the attempted murder of three other people, police said.

Zara Anne Radcliffe will appear before Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on Thursday accused of stabbing to death 88-year-old John Rees who was allegedly attacked in a Co-op store in Pen Y Graig, Rhondda Valley.

South Wales Police said Radcliffe, from Porth, is also accused of three counts of attempted murder relating to other people who were also hurt in the incident on Tuesday afternoon.

“South Wales Police has charged a 29-year-old woman from Porth with the murder of John Rees, 88, and the attempted murder of three others,” a force spokesman said.

“Zara Anne Radcliffe will appear before Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning.”

Mr Rees, who lived in the nearby village of Trealaw with his wife Eunice, was a church warden at All Saints Church.

In a statement his family said: “John was the very definition of a good man, extremely respected and liked in the community.

“He was proud of his family, proud to be a Welshman and devoted to All Saints Church. We will all miss him terribly.”

Other tributes have also been paid to Mr Rees.

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Police at the scene of a reported stabbing in the village of Pen Y Graig (Ben Birchall/PA)

Police at the scene of a reported stabbing in the village of Pen Y Graig (Ben Birchall/PA)

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Police at the scene of a reported stabbing in the village of Pen Y Graig (Ben Birchall/PA)

Local Plaid Cymru councillor Joshua Davies tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of John Rees from Trealaw. Rest in Peace John.”

Flowers have been left outside the convenience store and at All Saints Church.

One said: “Our hearts go out for John and his beloved wife Eunice and family. We are all heartbroken. Such a lovely, lovely gentleman, kind and caring, so so sad. God bless.

“Thanks for being the lovely man who has rang our church bells every Thursday night for the NHS. You will be very sadly missed by everyone.”

Another said: “Heartbreaking losing your life in such a horrific way. Can’t stop thinking of your poor wife x Thoughts are with you and your family.”

It's just so sad and unbelievable. The church bells at the end of the street, he’d be there doing themTracey Goodridge, neighbour of victim John Rees

A neighbour of Mr Rees, Tracey Goodridge, said he was a carer for his wife and that he was “a gentleman” who would “help anybody”.

“It’s just so sad and unbelievable. The church bells at the end of the street, he’d be there doing them. And couldn’t wait for the services to start back – he loved his church,” she told ITV Wales.

The incident on Tuesday afternoon left one man in a stable condition in hospital and two other people suffered non-life-threatening injuries. One of those injured was believed to be an NHS worker.

Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Rhondda, has written to the Cym Taf Morgannwg University Health Board asking that specialist support services are made available for those who witnessed the incident.

The South Wales force had also referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, but did not say why.

PA