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Family squabble over hanged man's funeral

TWO sisters ended up in court yesterday - in a bitter feud over their father's funeral.

The body of David Sargeant has been in the mortuary at Gillingham's Medway Maritime Hospital for two weeks while a battle raged between his daughters, Jane and Maureen.

Jane claimed her father, who was found two weeks ago hanged in his flat at Wood Street, Brompton, Gillingham, told her he wanted to be buried. But the other daughter, Maureen, insisted he should be cremated.

In a desperate attempt to settle their differences, the two women took their fight to Medway County Court on the day after their late father would have been 69.

Their wheelchair-bound mother, Eva Lydia Sargeant, found it too traumatic to attend.

Judge Donald Cryan was baffled by the unusual nature of the hearing, and was uncertain of the court's power. He said: "I am concerned that this court does not have the power to deal with this application.

There is no ownership of the body. The remains of the deceased are not included in the estate. It seems to me that this is a case that should be dealt with as a matter of urgency at the High Court."

After retiring to his chambers to pour over law books he came back to urge the sisters to "reconciliate and resolve the matter between themselves so not to cause more unhappiness". After half an hour's debate behind closed doors the sisters finally came to an agreement.

Maureen, of Princes Park, Chatham, who has not been in contact with her late father for many years, gave in to Jane's wishes to bury their father on the condition that Jane abandoned her rights to the estate. Maureen ran from the back door of the court and refused to comment.

Jane, 31, emerged from the court and said: "My daughter and I are very happy. Maureen got what she wanted and I got what I wanted. It was never about the money for me. I just wanted to bury my father. I had to agree that I have no rights to his estate."

Before the hearing, Jane said: "I can't bear the thought of him being cremated. It was his wish to be buried and I want to be buried with him. I've never been close to my sister or my mum - he's the only one I was close to."

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