Police investigating funeral home give 'devastating' update, after removing 35 bodies and ashes

4 April 2024, 15:33

Police have given a 'devastating' update
Police have given a 'devastating' update. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Police investigating claims of wrongdoing at a funeral home in Hull have issued a "devastating" update into their inquiries.

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Police launched their investigation last month into Legacy Independent Funeral Directors after concerns were raised "about the storage and management processes relating to care of the deceased".

Officers have since removed 35 bodies and other suspected human remains from three branches of the funeral directors.

Police said on Thursday that they cannot identify people because of the high temperature required for cremation.

Over 2,000 calls have been made to Humberside Police by previous customers since the probe began, the force said.

Police previously arrested a man, 46, and a woman, 23, on suspicion of prevention of a lawful and decent burial, fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position. They remain on bail.

Assistant Chief Constable Thom McLoughlin said: "Since the start of the investigation our dedicated phone line has received over 2000 calls from concerned members of the public. Of those a significant number were understandably concerned about the identification of the ashes of their loved ones so that repatriation with their families can take place.

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Assistant Chief Constable Thom McLoughlin
Assistant Chief Constable Thom McLoughlin. Picture: Alamy

"We have been working closely with forensic scientists and specialists to assess whether it was possible to extract DNA from the human ashes in order to identify them.

"Whilst the expert opinion provides us with assurance that the proper crematorium process had been followed; unfortunately, given the high temperature required to carry out a cremation, the DNA will have been broken down and degraded to such a level, that we would not be able to recover a meaningful DNA profile.

"This means that we are unable to identify any of the human ashes. This will, of course, be devastating news for families and loved ones and you have my heartfelt condolences at this difficult time.

"This will of course be devastating news for the families and loved ones and they have my heartfelt condolences."

The force said it was not able to comment on individual cases "given the complexities and scale" of the probe. It said it was supporting families affected by the investigation.

Police outside the Hessle Road branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull
Police outside the Hessle Road branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull. Picture: Alamy

ACC McLoughlin added: "In addition we have had a number of calls that relate to suspected financial and fraudulent activity. I have dedicated, specialist investigation teams carrying out numerous enquiries and following up on various leads and information."

He also said: "“We must remember that, at the core of this investigation are heartbroken, devastated families and loved ones. I recognise that this has been a difficult and distressing time for those involved, and there is no doubt that the impact has been felt across our communities.

"You will continue to have questions, and I want to offer my reassurance that we will release updates on any significant developments as and when we are able.

"But we do need to be mindful not to jeopardise ongoing investigations and I ask that people refrain from speculating and continue to show the utmost respect for the privacy of those bereaved families within our community."

Police outside the Hessle Road branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull after reports of 'concern for care of the deceased'
Police outside the Hessle Road branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull after reports of 'concern for care of the deceased'. Picture: Alamy

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Humberside Police said in an earlier statement that it was "continuing to explore numerous lines of inquiry, and where people have been identified as victims, we will be supporting them".

"We understand how distressing this case is for those involved, we will look to return any recovered ashes as soon as we able to.

"We encourage anyone who feels they need to speak to someone and talk through their concerns to please call the Victim Support helpline on 0808 281 1136."

LBC approached Legacy Independent Funeral Directors for comment.

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