Dead man's wife and mistress fight over burial plot

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In life, Kenneth Dunn was generous with his time, sharing it with his wife and his mistress. Both knew of the other's existence and tolerated his double life over 18 years.

But in death, that generosity degenerated into acrimony, with a bitter slanging match over the deeds to his grave and ultimately who will have the right to lie alongside him.

Yesterday at Birmingham County Court, Debbie Doyle, daughter of the self-employed roofing contractor by his 33-year marriage to Patricia Dunn, gave an emotional account of the dispute since his death nearly four years ago at the age of 56.

Mrs Doyle, 35, told how she and other family members had been called to the home of Mr Dunn's mistress, Jean Cooper, at 3am after he died of a heart attack in her bed.

Later, Mrs Dunn raised the question of how the funeral expenses would be met.

Mrs Doyle told the court that Michael Cooper, Jean's son, assured them that Mr Dunn had left a will with his mother and the costs would be paid from the estate of his roofing business.

Mrs Doyle said it was agreed that her father should be buried in a double plot at Robin Hood Cemetery in Solihull, near her 54-year-old mother's home in Tyseley, as well as that of Mrs Cooper, 56, who began using the name Dunn in 1975.

But Mrs Doyle said before the funeral the accord between the two families disintegrated in a row over the burial plot.

Her mother received a call from the family saying there would be a single grave but with Mr Dunn still unburied, it transpired that arrangements for the single plot had not been made.

Mrs Cooper paid the £2,421 for the funeral and retained the deeds to the double burial plot, where Mr Dunn's grave is marked by a simple wooden cross.

Mrs Dunn's daughters, on her behalf, are contesting Mrs Cooper's right to hold the deeds. The case continues today.