Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Infection Claims Stopped Family Seeing Mum's Body

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Infection Claims Stopped Family Seeing Mum's Body

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Warburton Chief Reporter

AFUNERAL director whose chapel of rest was nothing more than a "derelict flower shop" denied loved ones the chance to pay their last respects to their mother, a grieving daughter has claimed.

Tony Clarke told Pauline Kent's family her body was riddled with "infection and was highly contagious" after it was collected from Sunderland Royal Hospital, an inquest heard.

But Mrs Kent's daughter, Tina, claimed the chapel of rest at the Tony Clarke Funeral Directors - where her mother's body should have been stored - in fact did not exist.

During an inquest yesterday, Mr Clarke denied the premises were still under construction and said it had been completed "well before" he collected Mrs Kent's body.

Coroner Derek Winter had asked Tina: "In your statement you say you got a call from the funeral director and he had been able to collect your mum and she was in the chapel of rest on January 9."

Tina replied: "Yes, a derelict flower shop." Speaking at Sunderland Civic Centre, Tina, 35, who lives in Kettering Square in Downhill, Sunderland, said: "He tried to deny me the right to see my mum but I found out he did not have a chapel of rest."

Now, the coroner has criticised Mr Clarke and said his intervention was "ill-informed and unnecessary" and only acted to "undermine the integrity of the death certificate and mortuary procedures".

Mrs Kent, from Rutherglen Road, Sunderland, was suffering from breast cancer and was given "end of life care" before she died on January 2. After a doctor issued a death certificate confirming the 58-year-old had died from cancer, Mr Clarke was called to collect the body and take it to his parlour on Railway Terrace, Sunderland.

Tina had expressed a wish to see her mother in the chapel of rest on her birthday, January 11.

But Mr Clarke said the body was infectious, meaning family members should seal the coffin without the opportunity to pay their last respects.

He advised Tina to make an official complaint to the patient advice and liaison services (PALS) at Sunderland Royal Hospital after raising concerns that her mother had been left unattended following a fall in her final days. …

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