Pensioner, 88, stabbed to death in Co-op while wife waited outside in car

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

An 88-year-old man was stabbed to death inside a Wales branch of Co-op while his wife waited for him in the car for 15 minutes.

The victim, John Rees, of Trealaw, Rhondda Valley, left his wife Eunice, 87, in their Honda car while he queued up to go into the village store on Tylacelyn Road, Pen Y Graig, Rhondda Valley, on Tuesday afternoon.

But the father-of-two died after being stabbed in the throat in the aisles – leaving his dementia-sufferer wife sitting alone in the car waiting for him. Three other shoppers were also stabbed.

South Wales Police have arrested a 29-year-old woman on suspicion of murder after the knife attack.

In a statement released by police, 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.”

A friend of Rees said: “It is so tragic. John was so dedicated to Eunice and they were always together.

“She has no idea what has happened. Eunice has dementia and she can't take it in. She keeps on saying: ‘Where's John?’”

The family friend added: “He was known to everyone around here as Uncle John – he was that sort of man. He was very smart and always wore a shirt even though he was long retired.

Police at the scene in the village of Pen Y Graig in south Wales. (PA)
One of the people stabbed in the attack, Andrew Price (right), is said to be in a stable condition in hospital. (PA/Wales News)

“He was a church warden and never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was the perfect gentleman.”

The couple had an actress daughter who died about two years ago and a son living in London. They had two grandchildren.

Passers-by at the scene described Eunice as “upset” and “looking for her husband” after the stabbing before she was escorted away by police.

Eyewitnesses described seeing people fleeing the store following the attack.

A man and a woman were seen bleeding from wounds to the neck, according to shop workers.

Andrew Price, 58, was named as one of the people stabbed in the attack and is said to be in a stable condition in hospital.

Andrew’s niece Katie Evans said “My uncle was sadly one of the victims that got stabbed in Penygraig earlier. This world has gone crazy.”

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"Hope you make a speedy recovery Andrew Price. Our thoughts are also with the others."

Witnesses described seeing the aftermath of the incident, which happened at about 1.45pm on Tuesday.

Ravi Raj, 35, manager at the Pen Y Graig post office, said: "There was a woman attacking four different people with a knife.

Forensic officers at the scene of the stabbing, which left one man dead. (PA)
A forensic officer at the scene of the stabbing. (PA)

"I saw one of the men bleeding from his neck and one of the women from the side of the neck.”

Another man is in a stable condition in hospital and two other people have suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Kenan Bastug, who was working in his brother's kebab shop, said a woman ran into the shop having been stabbed in the neck.

He told the PA news agency: "There was no blood but we could see like a one-and-a-half centimetre wound.

"She was shocked and didn't talk. She was crying. She was trying to stop the girl stabbing the guy, and then she got stabbed as well, I think. That's what she said.

Police stand guard at the road following the knife attack. (PA)

"She had a badge on that said NHS. But I don't know whether she worked for the NHS or not.”

Another witness, who was sitting in a car outside the Co-op, said she saw an injured man in a van next to her being attended to by medics.

"This was the man who had been stabbed repeatedly, they took him out of the van and placed him into the ambulance," she said.

Businesses in the village were told to lock their doors as armed police and ambulances arrived at the scene.

Eyewitnesses described seeing people fleeing the store on Tylacelyn Road. (PA)

People spoke of their shock at the incident, which occurred in an area that has colourful banners draped along Tylacelyn Road in support of the NHS.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant said: "You can't get more normal and ordinary than the Co-op in Pen Y Graig.

"So this feels horrific and extraordinary. My heart goes out to those who've been directly affected and my thanks goes to the police and NHS.”

Police were appealing for witnesses to come forward, as well as anyone who had mobile phone footage.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark O'Shea, leading the murder investigation, said police are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident.