Anti-social birds force church to relocate couple’s gravestone

Judge deems burial plot ‘unsightly and unhygienic’

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Tuesday 14 March 2023 10:13 GMT
Church in Newcastle allows couple’s remains to be moved after their grave is covered in bird poo
Church in Newcastle allows couple’s remains to be moved after their grave is covered in bird poo (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The buried ashes of a husband and wife have been cleared for relocation after a judge was told the couple’s headstone was covered by bird poo.

Perched above the resting place of Frederick and Ellen Couley in Heaton Cemetery, Newcastle, is a tree used as a roost for birds.

Church philosophy on exhumation does not usually allow for human remains to be moved from consecrated ground due to the importance of one final resting place.

However, the couple’s son Terry Couley, told the Church of England’s Consistory Court that the amount of bird poo made the grave hazardous to health.

As a result, judge Simon Wood, Chancellor of the Diocese of Newcastle, approved the relocation to a bird-free area of the cemetery.

The judge said he was showed photographs of the grave covered so heavily in faeces from the roosting birds “that it had become unsightly and unhygienic”.

The couple passed away in 2020 and their ashes were buried in the cemetery in December, prior to bird roosting season.

Last month, a family from Lanarkshire, Scotland, paid thousands to exhume the grave of their loved one after noticing he was buried next to notorious child killer, Sam Glass.

Glass was jailed for molesting and killing a five-year-old girl in the 60s, and died in a secure hospital in 2018.

The horrified family fought a three-year battle to have their relative moved from beside Glass.

A member of the family told The Daily Record: ““It’s not a cost you would want but we weren’t going to leave him where he was. He’s at peace and we are happy now.”

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