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Corpse rides off into sunset

A DEVOTED son took his father on a last motorcycle ride through Copenhagen, bought him a drink and a cigar, and at the end of the three- hour spin delivered him to a police station in Frederikssund. Untouched by this exuberant display of filial love, the law charged Flemming Petersen with illicit handling of a corpse.

Petersen senior had been dead for two days, as his son was aware when he turned up at the morgue to fetch him. Requesting a few moments of privacy, the body-snatcher dressed the corpse in leather gear, boots, helmet and sunglasses. He smuggled his dead dad outside, tied him on to the back seat of his Harley-Davidson, and rode off.

According to yesterday's issue of the Danish newspaper BT, 86-year-old Petersen senior's final journey took him to Copenhagen, 25 miles south of his previous resting-place, on a grand tour of his favourite sights and watering-holes.

There was even time for a quick pit-stop. Alighting at his local during this unusual pub crawl, the son propped his father up by the bar, bought two beers and put a cigar in his mouth. No one paid the slightest attention, perhaps because the younger Petersen appeared to be deeply engrossed in conversation with his silent companion.

"I really felt great afterwards," he said. "It helps to be with the deceased, to sit and chat, even though he couldn't hear what I was saying."

After the bar they headed home to Frederikssund, for the last family reunion with the dead man's widow, and a quick snapshot of the dear departed on the bike. The police station was journey's end.

It was an easy ride, the son recalled, except for a heart-stopping moment when the bike stalled and Mr Petersen had to ask passers-by for help. He apologised for his father's reluctance to get off and push. The old man had had a few drinks and was "dead tired", Mr Petersen explained. The family is planning a quiet funeral.