Family wins cremation battle over Aborigine

AN ENGLISH woman who adopted an Aborigine won a court ruling yesterday allowing her to decide his final resting place after his natural mother lost her fight to bury him according to Australian native tradition.

A High Court judge ruled it was in the best interests of Dayne Childs's two-year-old daughter, Hollie, his girlfriend, Kirsten Milton, and adoptive mother that his funeral arrangements be made in their home city of Norwich.

Mrs Justice Hale said the wishes of Mr Childs's natural mother, Cheryl Buchanan, should be respected, but did not amount to the special reasons necessary to grant her administration of his burial.

The body of Mr Childs, who died in a car crash aged 26, has been in a mortuary since last July because his two families could not agree on where he should be buried. Mrs Buchanan claimed that plans to cremate her son were repugnant to Aboriginal culture and that his spirit could be freed only if he was buried in his homeland.

The court was told that Mr Childs's adoptive mother, Annette, had given permission for his Aboriginal family to say "farewell" in the mortuary and attend his funeral.

In her ruling, the judge said the "tall, dark, handsome man who was popular with women" had thought of himself as English but also recognised his background.

Mr Childs was born in a Brisbane hospital in 1972 when his mother, who was 18 and unmarried, worked for the Aborigine tribal council. His adoption papers showed that his birth mother wanted to keep him but had no means of supporting him and had signed adoption consent papers after four days. The Childs family adopted him in 1974 when they were living in Australia where they stayed until 1979. They named him Dayne and had their own son as well as adopting another child. "It was a close, loving and open- minded family," the judge said.

Mrs Buchanan said she had never forgotten her son and in 1991 when the law was changed and she was given the right to know the names of his adoptive parents, she tracked him down. But he did not want to talk to her and she did not try to contact him again until 1996 when she persuaded him to pay a visit to Australia to meet his natural family.

When he returned to England he was no longer the "cool and collected young man" he had been previously, but resumed his relationship with Kirsten Milton and their two-year-old daughter.

After his death, Mrs Childs planned to have him cremated and buried next to her husband who died in 1996 but his Aborigine family begged her not to do this and asked for his body to be returned to Australia. Ms Milton initially agreed but then began to have misgivings over whether it was in their daughter's best interests and whether it was what Mr Childs would have wanted. It was then that the legal battle began.

The judge said she had reached her conclusion after taking into account the deeply held feelings of both families.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions