The members of Judas Priest have issued a public statement in response to the news of former drummer Dave Holland's death.

As previously reported, the 69-year-old Holland — who logged a decade-long tenure with the British heavy metal legends between 1979 and 1989 — had been living in Lugo, a city in northwestern Spain, at the time of his death. A drum teacher in the years following his departure from the Priest lineup, he'd been keeping a low profile since 2004, when he was sentenced to eight years in prison for the rape and assault of a former student.

"It is with regret that we hear of the passing of Dave Holland," the group wrote in a statement to Blabbermouth after hearing of Holland's death. "Despite his actions since working with the band, his time with us was amongst the most productive and successful in the band's career and for that alone he shall be missed."

Holland was also remembered fondly by former Priest guitarist K.K. Downing, who issued his own statement in response to the news. "Dave was a solid friend in life and solid musician both on the stage and in the studio," he wrote. "I will cherish the many gigs we played together and the albums that we made and I will always be grateful to the indelible contribution that Dave gave to Judas Priest."

While living in semi-seclusion, Holland continued to insist he was innocent of the crime he had been charged with, at one point telling a Priest biographer he'd been "convicted of a crime that I didn't commit ... an offense that never even existed in the first place." His neighbors in the Lugo community of Lamas de Campos described him as a "very kind and proper person" who seemed to prefer keeping to himself.

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