Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wrong Body Was Cremated in Mix Up; Mouners Held Funeral as Body Lay in Mortuary

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wrong Body Was Cremated in Mix Up; Mouners Held Funeral as Body Lay in Mortuary

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty

THE WRONG body was burnt when the cremation of a Northumberland woman was carried out after a Spanish car crash.

Loved ones of Heather Brierly thought they had seen her cremated after the horror smash that claimed the lives of three women on holiday.

But her body was in fact lying in a mortuary having become confused with the corpse of her friend.

A police investigation is now under way to find out who was cremated in Ms Brierly's place on March 23.

Public relations agent, Ms Brierly, 59, was on holiday with her neighbour, mum-of-two Ruth Robson, 76. The couple lived opposite each other in Ridley Mill, Stocksfield, Northumberland.

A third friend, Julie Walsh, 58, from Somerset, also died in the tragedy.

Police last night confirmed Mrs Robson's body had been correctly identified and buried in Hexham. But it is not yet known what happened to Mrs Walsh's remains.

The holiday-makers' hire car was involved in a double-collision at a notorious blackspot, near the town of Cordoba in southern Spain, on March 3.

The deaths of close friends Ms Brierly and Mrs Robson left the tiny Northumberland hamlet stunned.

But their loved ones are now reeling from the shock of discovering the body they saw cremated was the wrong one and they may have to attend a second funeral.

Northumbria Police is now investigating the mix-up. DCI Paul Young said: "At the request of HM Coroner for Northumberland we were asked to clarify a number of issues in connection with the identification of three women. Our role has been to assist the coroner in his inquiries.

"We are now satisfied that the body of Ruth Robson is correctly interred at St Andrew's Cemetery in Hexham. We are also satisfied that the body of Heather Brierly has been correctly identified.

"Further inquiries are being conducted on behalf of the coroner to confirm the identity of the woman who was cremated on March 23. …

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