Advertisement

Police investigating Hull funeral directors cannot identify ashes in ‘devastating’ blow to families

Legacy Independent Funeral Directors was raided over concerns for care of the deceased (Danny Lawson/PA)
Legacy Independent Funeral Directors was raided over concerns for care of the deceased (Danny Lawson/PA)

The remains of dozens of bodies stored at a funeral directors accused of fraud will never be identified in a “devastating” blow to families.

Humberside Police said it was impossible to recover any meaningful identification due to DNA profiles being degraded during cremation.

Legacy Independent Funeral Directors in Hull, Yorkshire, was raided in March after concerns were raised over care of the deceased.

Some 35 bodies and “suspected human ashes” were removed from one of its three branches, with a man aged 46 and woman aged 23 arrested on suspicion of fraud and preventing a proper burial.

A Humberside Police spokesperson said: “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.

Humberside Police said it was impossible to identify the remains of dozens of bodies due to DNA being degraded during cremation (Danny Lawson/PA Wire)
Humberside Police said it was impossible to identify the remains of dozens of bodies due to DNA being degraded during cremation (Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

“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.”

The force added that it had received more than 2,000 calls from members of the public who were concerned about the identification of the ashes of loved ones.

A grieving widow was among family members who has been left devastated after she was told police discovered her husband’s body in their freezer.

A friend of the widow told The Telegraph: “But now they have found out that he wasn’t cremated and he has been in the freezer all this time.

Some 35 bodies and “suspected human ashes” were removed from one of the company’s three branches in Yorkshire (AFP via Getty Images)
Some 35 bodies and “suspected human ashes” were removed from one of the company’s three branches in Yorkshire (AFP via Getty Images)

“Apparently, the police have told them that he could have only been frozen under the direction of the coroner.

“The widow is distraught. The family thought they had his remains, and are now asking, ‘If it’s not him, then who is it?’”

Another woman, who lost her father Andrew, 52, and brother Dwane, 34, in the space of five days, is now convinced she kissed an empty coffin in her last goodbye.

Billie-Jo Suffill, 33, also now fears that her brother’s ashes may be those of someone else. She said: “I never actually got to see my dad’s body. 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 now it is disgusting.”

The force urged anyone with concerns over a funeral plan to contact insurance providers or to report it to police by calling 101 or visiting the Humberside Police website.