AN 80-YEAR-OLD priest brutally murdered at the weekend has been hailed as a "martyr" by his parishioners, writes Luke Coppen.
Fr Paul Orchard was found dead with multiple stab wounds on Sunday morning after members of his congregation contacted the police when he did not appear to take morning Mass.
Police said Fr Orchard's body was discovered at the bottom of a flight of stairs in the presbytery of the Church of Our Lady and St Hubert in Warley on the outskirts of Birmingham. Parishioners said that Fr Orchard insisted on keeping an open-door policy despite suffering a series of burglaries and intrusions in recent weeks.
Fr Alberic Stacpoole, a friend, described Fr Orchard as an outstanding priest. He said: "He was seen as holy and wholesome, a man of God who spoke the truth with love."
On Monday night police charged a 31 -year-old man with the murder.