Three arrested after desecration of Muslim woman's body with bacon strips

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The Independent Online

Detectives investigating the desecration of a Muslim woman's body, which was found covered with bacon in a morgue, have arrested three men and discovered 2,000 photographs of corpses.

Another desecration of a corpse at Hillingdon Hospital mortuary in west London in 1996 ­ when the body was marked by a pen ­ has also emerged during the inquiry by Scotland Yard. Neither the family of the first victim nor the police were notified at the time of the desecration. Her relatives have now been informed. The hospital has apologised to the woman's family, who are said to be "very distressed", and has set up its own inquiry.

Two of those arrested, a man aged 20 and another aged 30, are former mortuary workers who are now being investigated over the incident in January, in which the woman, a grandmother who was 65 when she died of cancer, was desecrated with bacon slices. It is strictly against the Muslim religion to touch or eat pork, and detectives are treating it as a religiously or racially motivated crime.

The third man, a 53-year-old from Uxbridge in west London, was arrested in connection with allegations of theft of personal property from corpses in the mortuary. He is not being linked to the desecration and has been suspended from his job at the hospital. When detectives raided his home they found 2,000 photographs and slides of corpses.

Detective Superintendent Gordon Briggs, of Scotland Yard's racial and violent crime task force, said the images were "mortuary-style" and covered a 10-year period up to the present day.

Some of the corpses were naked and were of both sexes and various ethnic backgrounds. He said that investigations were continuing to establish how many different corpses were involved.

Det Supt Briggs said there was no evidence of further desecrations of bodies in the set of photographs. All three people arrested have been released on bail.

David McVittie, chief executive of the Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust, said: "If anyone who worked for us interfered with bodies in the mortuary, that is a deeply shocking fact.

"We expect all our staff to be respectful of the dead and treat them with the utmost dignity at all times. I offer my sincere apologies to the family of any person who may have been abused in this way.

"Although no one could imagine anyone carrying out these appalling acts, we have made absolutely sure it cannot happen again by stopping anyone from working alone in the mortuary and keeping it locked at all other times.''