Hull funeral directors investigation: Man told urn does not hold wife’s ashes

  • By Kevin Shoesmith and Peter Levy
  • BBC News

Image caption,

Richard Shaw says his wife’s ashes have been found in a Hull mortuary

A man has been told ashes he believed were his late wife’s are not hers, as police continue to investigate alleged wrongdoing by a Hull funeral director.

Richard Shaw used Legacy Independent Funeral Directors for Rita’s cremation in October 2023.

A quantity of ashes and 35 bodies were removed from the firm by officers following “concern for care of the deceased”.

On Friday, Mr Shaw learned his wife’s ashes had been found in a mortuary.

Humberside Police said it could not comment on individual cases “given the complexities and scale” of its investigation but was supporting affected families.

Image caption,

Richard Shaw thought he was in possession of wife Rita’s ashes

He said a detective called him on Friday to inform him his wife’s ashes had been found in the mortuary at Hull Royal Infirmary.

Mr Shaw said the call left him “in shock”, adding his wife “would be going absolutely mad”.

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

Mr Shaw said he had no idea whose ashes are in the urn. He said he was given them 60 days after the funeral.

He said the detective told him police also do not know whose ashes he was given.

Mr Shaw said, in time, he intends to spread the unknown person’s ashes in his garden.

Image caption,

Police said its investigation is “highly complex”

He said police had told him they could not yet return his wife’s ashes to him.

Mr Shaw said he was being “looked after” by kind neighbours.

“I don’t have anybody else,” he said.

The BBC has approached Legacy Independent Funeral Directors for comment.

In a statement, Humberside Police said 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.”

A 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, who were arrested on suspicion of prevention of a lawful and decent burial, fraud by false representation and fraud by abuse of position, remain on bail.

Image source, Kevin Shoesmith/BBC

Image caption,

Floral tributes have been laid in front of Legacy’s premises in Hessle Road, Hull


6 March – Humberside Police receives a report “expressing concern about the storage and management processes relating to care of the deceased”

8 March – Cordons are erected and officers attend at Legacy’s three premises – two in Hull and one in nearby Beverley

9 March – Officers arrest a 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman after they touch down at Heathrow Airport. The pair are “transported to Humberside”

10 March – 34 bodies are removed from Legacy’s premises in Hessle Road, Hull, and taken to the city’s mortuary

12 March – Police revise the number of bodies removed from the funeral directors to 35, adding a quantity of what they believe to be human ashes was also recovered from the premises. The force states two people arrested have since been been bailed

15 March – The families of all 35 deceased have now been contacted, police say. Specialists from the National Crime Agency are drafted in. Police say they have received more than 1,500 calls from the public

28 March – Victim Support launches a helpline for families affected by the investigation


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