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Inquest date set for church bell ringer fatally attacked in Penygraig Co-op store

29 Feb 2024 2 minute read
Police at the scene of the attack in Penygraig on May 5 2020. Photo PA Images

An inquest will take place later this year into the death of a heroic pensioner who died attempting to stop a woman carrying out a knife attack in the Co-op store in Penygraig.

Church bell ringer John Rees, 88, bravely intervened when Zara Radcliffe, now 33, began stabbing at customers at the supermarket in the village on May 5 2020.

He was fatally attacked by Radcliffe, who has schizophrenia and later admitted manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility, and died at the scene.

Graeme Hughes, senior coroner for South Wales Central, held a pre-inquest review at South Wales Central Coroner’s Court in Pontypridd on Thursday.

During the hearing, Mr Hughes said an inquest, expected to take up to four days, would take place into the death of Mr Rees on July 8 this year.


Radcliffe was hearing voices in her head and believed she was going to be attacked unless she killed someone first, Merthyr Crown Court previously heard.

The mother-of-one walked the short distance from her home to the shop armed with a kitchen knife, stabbing one man before running inside to attack a nurse who had tried to stop the assault.

Mr Rees, who was at the counter, took hold of Radcliffe’s right arm which was holding the knife and placed himself between her and the nurse, while trying to defuse the situation.

However, as Radcliffe lunged forwards, Mr Rees lost his balance and fell backwards.


Two women in the shop bravely tried to intervene to save Mr Rees but he was stabbed and bludgeoned to death with two wine bottles and a fire extinguisher.

As he lay dying, his wife Eunice was sitting in their car parked outside the store unaware of what was unfolding inside.

Radcliffe, of Penygraig, was given an indefinite hospital order at Merthyr Crown Court in October 2020 after pleading guilty to manslaughter and three counts of attempted murder on the basis of diminished responsibility.

In a statement to the court at the time, Mr Rees’s son-in-law Patrick Davidson-Houston said: “We are very proud of the brave actions he took that day, but not surprised, because they are very much in keeping with his character.”

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