Mystery ashes found buried in grave

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A grieving family discovered a casket of ashes buried in their loved one's grave, police said today.

The family went to the grave in Henley Road Cemetery, Reading, last week intending to plant bulbs.

But when they began to disturb the soil, the casket was discovered buried two inches below the surface.

An investigation revealed there are no records of the casket, which is box-shaped and made from gold-coloured plastic, being officially buried there.

It contained what appeared to be cremated ashes. They have been sent for forensic examination to try to determine whether they are human or animal remains.

There was no information on the casket such as an engraved plate.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jennings, from Thames Valley Police, said: "The family who reported this are greatly distressed to think that someone has disturbed the grave on consecrated ground, which contains the interned remains of their loved ones.

"They cannot tell us when this is likely to have happened and only noticed it when they went to tend the grave and to plant spring bulbs."

He said the remains will be handled sensitively and returned to the cemetery so they can be scattered, if no one comes forward.

"The family are also concerned that they may attend the grave one day to find a stranger there, paying respects to the unofficially buried ashes, and so we need to make the public aware of the fact that the ashes have in fact been removed," the officer added.