Widower told urn does not hold late wife's ashes after 35 bodies recovered from Hull funeral parlour amid investigation

3 April 2024, 14:25 | Updated: 3 April 2024, 14:28

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

By Christian Oliver

A widower has been told the urn he believed contained his late wife's ashes is not hers following a police investigation into alleged wrongdoing by a Hull funeral home.

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Richard Shaw was on Friday told that his wife Rita's ashes were in fact in the mortuary at Legacy Independent Funeral Directors and not in the urn. Rita was cremated in October 2023.

It comes as police continue their investigation into a Hull funeral home that saw 35 bodies and a quantity of ashes removed by police.

Humberside Police were warned of a “concern for care of the deceased” at three branches of the funeral directors.

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

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Speaking to the BBC, Mr Shaw said he was called by police on Friday and was told his wife's ashes were found still at the Hull Royal Infirmary.

However police are not able to return the ashes to him while the investigation is ongoing.

He described being "in shock" knowing that his wife "would be going absolutely mad".

Mr Shaw previously told the BBC that he feared the ashes stored in the urn at the couple's home were not those of his wife amid the police investigation.

"If the boot was on the other foot, if it was me [whose ashes had been found], she would be going crackers," he said.

The widower still does not know whose ashes are in the urn, but said he will eventually spread them in his garden.

Police have also contacted the families of 35 people whose bodies were found in the funeral home.

Detectives have been working "around the clock" since concerns were raised on March 8 "about the storage and management processes relating to care of the deceased at the funeral directors".

Over 1,500 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.

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 a 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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