Grieving mum claims undertaker reopened son’s body ‘to check organs were in right place’
Caroline Richards says she was left feeling ‘sick’ while she was grieving for both her son and her father (Image: BirminghamLive/ WS)
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A grieving mum has claimed an undertaker reopened her son's body after a post-mortem examination to check his organs were "back in the right place".
Caroline Richards lost her father, James, and son, Kristian, on the same day in September last year.
She arranged funerals for both of them but said she was left feeling like her son's body had been "assaulted" after an alleged conversation at Keith Boraston Funeral Directors in Kidderminster, reports BirminghamLive.
Mrs Richards, 56, claimed Keith Boraston told her he had to "undo the coroner’s work" because they didn't "always put the organs back in the right place".
She alleged the conversation happened before she viewed her son's body and claimed the undertaker told her he liked to know "the person is complete".
Mrs Richards said she was left feeling "sick" while she was already grieving.
Mr Boraston confirmed to WorcestershireLive that he discussed the "level of care" given to Kristian's body with his mother. But he refused to discuss any details after taking legal advice.
He said: "A conversation did take place in a private chapel of rest on the level of care I had to do to look after Mrs Richards' son, to the best of my ability.
Caroline claims she felt her son's body had been "assaulted" after a conversation she had at Keith Boraston Funeral Directors in Kidderminster
(Image: BirminghamLive/ WS)
"I have been asked by my solicitor not to make any further comments."
Dad-of-three Kristian, 27, was killed in a crash in a crash in Stourport Road, Kidderminster, on September 10, 2019. He was driving to see his grandfather, who had died earlier the same day.
Mrs Richards told Worcestershire Live: "When I went to view Kristian he told me what he had done to him in graphic detail.
"I was gobsmacked and distraught. I was lost for words, and all I wanted to do was change the subject and asked how many people were allowed in the cars at the funeral.
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"After the funeral, I contacted him about it. To him it was normal. I felt he had assaulted my son’s body."
Mrs Richards said her son had not suffered chest injuries and she believed there was no reason for his body to be opened up.
Her son’s funeral was held on October 11, two days after her father’s, and she contacted Mr Boraston in November 2019 by email, and subsequently, to complain about what happened.
In response Mr Boraston emailed Mrs Richards on several occasions. He said in messages seen by WorcestershireLive: "I have always been open and honest with whoever intrust [sic] me with the care of a loved one.
"I cannot imagine the pain you must be suffering then and now.
"I did sence [sic] a feeling that I was not to hide any of the process from you.
The funeral for Caroline's son was two days after her father's funeral
(Image: BirminghamLive/ WS)
"In my own personal opinion I found you to be a very strong no-nonsense independent lady.
"I also wanted to reassure you we have all the facilities to care for your late son in a professional manner.
"I check that all that has been examined is sealed and in tack [sic].
"I readdress any thing that needs to be delt [sic] with or that may of occoured [sic]."
The country’s largest funeral industry organisation, the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), said there was "no reason to perform an invasive process to check the work of a pathologist".
It said that, even if there were a reason for such a procedure, consent should be sought and given as per its code of practice.
Mr Boraston is not a member of NAFD, which has voluntary regulation of its members, the association said.
A spokeswoman for NAFD said: "This was clearly a very distressing situation for the lady concerned and our hearts go out to her following the loss of her father and son.
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"Funeral directors have a responsibility to always act with professionalism and, while they might seek to hide scarring or other marks of a post-mortem to spare additional distress to a family, there is no reason to perform an invasive process simply to 'check' on the work of a pathologist.
"If a funeral director has concerns about the work of any pathologist or mortuary technician, they should raise it with the coroner.
"There are several valid reasons to perform an invasive process, including embalming and to remove a medical device.
"However, in all cases, funeral directors should seek clear and informed consent from the next of kin first. This is widely-accepted practice.
"Equally, funeral directors have a responsibility to communicate with compassion."
Mrs Richards said she was given a 50 per cent reduction in the funeral bill but her complaint had not been financially-motivated
She said: "The point of me raising this is what a funeral director does with a body isn’t regulated.
"I have been told there are only two reasons for a funeral director to reopen a body – to have a pacemaker removed or to embalm the body.
"Kristian didn’t have a pacemaker and wasn’t embalmed.
"I have tried every avenue with this. I want other people to know what can happen. It’s too late for Kristian. There are no laws to protect people when they’re dead.
"We are trying to get a petition to the Government to get the law changed."