Worshippers have been left deeply saddened by the loss of a church stalwart whose death led to a police investigation and the arrest of a 10-year-old boy.
Victor Hepworth, 79, died following an incident outside his home on Back Hill Top Avenue, Harehills, Leeds, on Sunday evening.
Police arrested the schoolboy amid reports that Mr Hepworth had collapsed after an altercation. The youngster today remained on bail pending further enquiries.
Father Paul Payton, rector at St Aidan’s Church, off Roundhay Road in Harehills, has paid tribute to Mr Hepworth, who he said was an integral member of the church.
He said: “He’s a very long-standing member of the congregation and has served in a number of capacities, most recently as sacrestan and verger, playing a big part in organising and setting up services, funerals and so on and generally helping out.
“He was a living presence in the church and many people used to say that he almost lived there because he always seemed to be around.
“He was committed, diligent, faithful and very popular. He was prepared to get stuck in and was very much part of the fabric of the church.
“Many people are very saddened by his death and it will have a big impact on the church community. It’s a big loss given how long he was here.”
Police were yesterday trying to trace members of family for Mr Hepworth, who lived alone.
Medical examinations are still taking place to determine how he died, but a post-mortem showed a head injury he had suffered during Sunday’s incident was not serious enough to prove fatal.
Father Paul added that an informal service had been held at the church on Monday to remember Mr Hepworth.
He added: “I was saddened and shocked that it had been so sudden. None of us anticipated what happened – he hadn’t seemed different from how he always was so we were in no way prepared for the news.”
Floral tributes have been left at the gates to Mr Hepworth’s home.
A message on one bouquet said: “An unfortunate loss of a lovely person who helped everyone and never asked a thing.”