Woman's 'disgust' as grandmother's body found in funeral home months after cremation

A police officer stands by the garage of a branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull (AFP via Getty Images)
A police officer stands by the garage of a branch of Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull (AFP via Getty Images)

A bereaved woman has said she feels “physically sick” after learning that her grandmother’s remains may have been among 35 bodies and suspected human ashes recovered by officers at a Hull funeral home at the centre of a police probe.

Grieving relatives have spoken of their torment after police received more than 1,000 calls as part of an alleged scandal at Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, told the Guardian that her grandmother had died in November last year and was supposed to have been cremated after a funeral service the following month.

She had collected what she believed to be ger grandmother’s ashes in February and placed some in an urn in her living room, and others in a “memorial corner” in her garden.

But on Friday, officers informed her that they had recovered a female body with her grandmother’s name on a tag at a funeral home on Hessle Road.

She told the Guardian: “I’m disgusted. I feel physically sick… I’ve got someone’s ashes which I don’t even know if it’s grandmother or not. We paid £1,799 [for the funeral service] and we don’t even know if she was in the coffin because, like I say, everything was fine.”

Deputy chief constable Dave Marshall, of Humberside Police, told reporters on Tuesday that the force was investigating a “truly horrific incident”.

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

The pair have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Other family members affected by the scandal on Tuesday spoke of their concern for what had happened to their deceased relatives.

Billie-Jo Suffill, a mother of three from Hull, said she felt “physically sick” after not receiving her father’s ashes.

The 33-year-old lost 52-year-old Andrew Suffill in July 2022, and her brother Dwane Suffill, 34, five days later.

She told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “I bet my dad was not even in the coffin – it was an empty coffin.

“I was kissing an empty coffin. When I think about it, it is disgusting.

“It’s like something out of a horror movie.

“I wonder if this will stop at 35 bodies. I think my dad is one of them.”

A friend of a widow told The Times that the body of her late husband, which was supposed to have been cremated, was discovered in the firm’s freezers eight months later.

Another man, Martin Stone, told the BBC he had been contacted by police, who said his mother Susan Stone’s cremation never went ahead.

Mr Stone told the broadcaster the firm said the family could pick up her ashes within a couple of weeks.

He said: “If I had collected her, I’d have had somebody else’s ashes, it wouldn’t have been my mum.”

The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), which provides training for those working within the bereavement services, has called for funeral directors to be regulated following the scandal.