28/12/2012 12:40 GMT | Updated 28/12/2012 12:44 GMT

Police Hunt Alan Greaves' Killer After Christmas Eve Midnight Mass 'Murder'

A man has died after being attacked on his way to a Christmas Eve midnight mass, police said on Friday.

Alan Greaves, 68, from Sheffield, was found on the pavement close to his home.

South Yorkshire Police said Mr Greaves died on Friday in the city's Northern General Hospital.

alan greaves

Police are now treating the death of Alan Greaves as a murder

Mr Greaves, a grandfather of High Green, died from head injuries.

Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick said: "Mr Greaves appears to have suffered a brutal attack after leaving his home address to attend midnight mass.

"At this stage, the motive is unclear. I want to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident. If you know who did this, please come forward and offer your support to the family at this difficult time."

Mr Greaves was an organist and lay preacher at St Saviour's Church in High Green, and was on his way to play for midnight mass when he was attacked.

Rev Canon Simon Bessant, who worked closely with Mr Greaves and his wife Maureen, a church community worker, said: "He was a good man and this was an evil act. He was a gentle soul. He wasn't foolish - he would have handled the situation as best as anyone would but we don't know what he encountered."

Mr Bessant, who was expecting Mr Greaves at the church, went on: "He never arrived, which we thought was strange. Sadly, he was attacked about 250 yards from the church. His family were all at home and the police contacted them at about midnight to say there has been an accident.

"I spent most of Christmas Day with him and the family. They have a strong faith but that doesn't mean you don't feel the difficulty. It was a hard vigil by his bedside, watching him struggle.

"His wife wants justice but she doesn't want vengeance. She is not embittered but obviously she wants this person to be caught."

The police have opened the case as a murder inquiry.