DETECTIVES have made a fresh appeal for information as a murder investigation is launched into the death of a churchgoing grandfather brutally attacked on a Sheffield street.
Father-of-four Alan Greaves, aged 68, was on his way to play the organ at St Saviours C of E in High Green when he suffered life-threatening head injuries in a violent assault on Christmas Eve.
He was found lying on the pavement outside a primary school minutes after leaving his home in Greengate Lane.
Police believe he was attacked with a weapon.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch stunned friends and others talking about the killing which has devastated the community.
He underwent four hours of surgery and was on life support at the Northern General Hospital with his family praying at his bedside over Christmas.
But a South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said today: “We can confirm that Mr Greaves sadly died last night in the Northern General Hospital.”
In a press conference this afternoon, Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, leading the investigation, made a plea for information as officers try to catch the culprit.
“I would like to say that if anyone has any information or intelligence to assist in this investigation - please contact us,” he said.
“Your conversation or information you provide will be treated in confidence. The motive behind the attack is very unclear.
“We cannot think of a motive why anyone would choose to attack Mr Greaves. Any assistance from the local community would be very much appreciated.
“At the moment we have no motive, or suspects, and no arrests have been made.”
He said robbery was not being ruled out as a motive, but that no money or possessions were believed to be missing when Mr Greaves was found.
Witnesses have come forward and officers are trawling through CCTV from nearby homes and businesses, DS Fenwick added.
Mr Greaves, a retired social worker, left his home at 11pm on Christmas Eve to play the organ for the midnight service at St Saviours on nearby Mortomley Lane.
Just 15 minutes later he was found by a pizza delivery driver, collapsed across the kerb halfway between home and the church.
Det Supt Fenwick said: “At the moment we are not aware of any possible motive, and that’s another reason we’d appeal to the community to assist us in this.”
Canon Simon Bessant of St Saviours Church - where a prayer vigil has been held - said Mr Greaves was a ‘gentle’, ‘well respected’ man.
“He is a retired social worker who has worked in Sheffield practically all his life, he is a lay preacher as well as the organist in the church,” he said.
“He was walking here to play at the midnight service, and we all thought it very unusual when he didn’t turn up. He is totally reliable.
“We phoned his home but there was no reply. Then I had a phone call at 8am on Christmas morning, and I spent most of Christmas Day with the family in the hospital.
“He has been the victim of a very violent attack. The reason why is unknown. He is a very gentle man.
“This is not a dangerous place, one would have thought, and this is a fit and spritely man, a tall man. But he is a gentle soul, a man with four children and a wife, who is well known in this community and well respected.”
Canon Bessant added: “He plays the piano at Angram Bank Primary School so he is known to the children there, and his wife Maureen is the community outreach worker at the church - she recently set up a community project and food bank on Greengate Lane not far from where this happened.”
Greengate Lane was closed on Christmas Day by police who yesterday carried out door-to-door inquiries.
Brian Batty, who lives opposite with wife Joan, said: “He lives just across from us with his wife Maureen and one of their sons, Peter. It’s terrible, a big shock.
“We know him to talk to, to say ‘Good morning, how do you do?’. He is a very quiet man.
“It’s not safe to be out these days.”
Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101 quoting incident 1,183 of Monday, December 24, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.