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Husband admits breaking into Butterfly funeral directors to steal mother-in-law's body


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A husband has revealed how he broke into a funeral directors to steal his mother-in-law's body.

The man said he hadn't been able to contact the undertaker for several days beforehand.

Desperate and with the funeral service day approaching, he entered Butterfly Funeral Services.

The husband stole his mother-in-law's body from the funeral director's. Stock image
The husband stole his mother-in-law's body from the funeral director's. Stock image

Speaking this week, he revealed how he used a doorway down an alleyway off Rochester High Street.

He loaded the corpse onto a trolley in daylight and transport it to a hired van.

He then took it to another funeral director, who has confirmed this version of events.

The man's actions were revealed after a series of issues were raised concerning Butterfly.

These include people not being able to get urns containing their loved ones' ashes.

The relative said: “I had no option. I had spent two days at the police station trying to track the owner down.

“I had to get the body out. I had taken on all of the organising and I didn’t want to bother my wife at this time.

“She still to this day doesn’t know what happened and I won’t be telling her.”

He asked traders to act as look-outs as he got through a side door of the Butterfly Funeral Services in Rochester High Street at about 2pm just over a year ago.

He then returned to pick up clothing his wife had dropped off to dress her mother’s body.

The situation was revealed this week as bailiffs repossessing the parlour owned by Karen Calder discovered 16 full urns on a shelf.

Baliff's letter on Butterfly Funeral Services window
Baliff's letter on Butterfly Funeral Services window

It's also been revealed Ms Calder has been banned from using the services at Medway Crematorium and Vinters Park Crematorium in Maidstone under her name because of unpaid bills.

The company ceased trading several weeks ago, leaving grieving relatives with unanswered questions.

Enforcement agent Robert Hamshare was so appalled on finding the urns he tracked Ms Calder down to her home.

Mr Hamshare, whose duty it is to remove goods from premises, has notified Medway Crematorium and given Ms Calder an ultimatum to return the ashes to their rightful owners.

Meanwhile, a handwritten note has been put in the shop window asking people to email if they want to collect the ashes.

After several attempts to contact Ms Calder, she responded, saying she had been forced to shut her business “due to ill health”.

She said: “I sincerely apologise if the families I have served have had difficulty in contacting me.”

The issues came to light after a family complained to the Messenger about the way their funeral plan was carried out for their mother.

"I had to get the body out. I had taken on all of the organising and I didn’t want to bother my wife at this time" - the desperate husband

Avalon, a company which specialises in pre-paid packages, sub-contracted the arrangements and ceremony to Butterfly, which set up in the High Street more than two years ago.

A statement from Avalon said: “We have a dedicated funeral director team who manage our relationships with funeral directors and carry out rigorous checks on all the funeral directors we work with.

“Butterfly’s have always provided a professional service for Avalon.

“There are no requirements for funeral directors to be registered with a trade body, however, we do work with many funeral directors who are registered with a trade body.”

Janet Morville-Smith, head of risk and compliance, added: “While Avalon always put our customers and their families first, it would be unfair to discredit this funeral director due to unforeseen circumstances that befell her which were out of her control, given that her previous service to the industry has been professional and exceptional.”

Butterfly is not registered with the National Board of Funeral Directors or the National Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors, both of which monitor and regulate the profession.

Leading Medway funeral director John Weir, who has four branches across the Towns, said: “The company involved were not subject to any regulatory inspection by either of the two professional organisations.

“Had they have been, then issues of poor practice, such have been highlighted would not have occurred.”

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