Vicar apologises for burial mix-up

A vicar apologised to a Church of England court today for a "foolish mistake" which led to a murder victim being buried in the wrong grave.

The court, sitting at St John's Church in Walsall Wood, West Midlands, was convened to hear a petition for the body of Mr Hastelow to be exhumed and reinterred in a different grave.

Judge Marten Coates, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Lichfield, adjourned his decision on the petition until next week after hearing how the plot had been reserved by widowed parishioner Jean Best.

Mrs Best wished to be buried alongside her late husband and was granted a faculty - or official permission - by the Church, reserving the adjoining plot at Walsall Wood churchyard.

But the body of Mr Hastelow - who was unlawfully killed in Majorca in 2008 - was then buried in the reserved plot on Monday November 9 2009.

That burial followed a lengthy campaign by family members for Mr Hastelow's body to be exhumed from a cemetery in Spain and flown back to the UK.

Giving evidence to the court, Rev Carter acknowledged that his error had caused considerable grief to both families and was entirely his fault.

"It was my responsibility to go to the churchyard on the previous Friday and mark the plot where Mr Hastelow should have been buried, and I forgot to do so.

"The consequence of this was that the gravediggers quite innocently went to what they thought was the next available plot and prepared the grave there.

"Since I did not take the funeral service for Mr Hastelow, I did not discover the mistake until I visited the churchyard on Tuesday.

"I would like to make it clear that I accept full responsibility for this foolish mistake - it was not the fault of any other person or party."

The vicar, who met both families to apologise immediately after the incident, added: "I would like to offer my sincere apologies to the families of the late Mr Michael Best and the late Daniel Hastelow for the grief and stress my failure has caused."

Mr Hastelow's mother, Susan, also gave evidence to the court, describing him as a lovely son and saying she did not want to see his body exhumed.

"He died tragically and I wanted him, obviously, to rest in peace," she said.

The petition was presented to the court by the Archdeacon of Walsall after failed attempts to find a solution acceptable to both families.

Judge Coates, who heard that double-depth graves cannot be dug at the churchyard because of the high water table, was asked to consider allocating a plot at the foot of Mr Best's grave to Mrs Best as an alternative to ordering Mr Hastelow's exhumation.

The judge, who conceded that his eventual decision would inevitably cause upset to one of the families, will announce his ruling at Warwick Crown Court on 6 April.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
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

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week