Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Judge rules mummified remains of couple be buried

Staff at Edinburgh City Mortuary
Image caption Staff at Edinburgh City Mortuary

A judge has given the go-ahead for the mummified remains of a couple who died decades ago to be buried.

Hilda Marcel and her husband Eugenios died in 1987 and 1994 respectively, from lung failure and cancer.

However, their son Melvyn delayed their burial until he could build a mausoleum in the grounds of his property.

Lord Mulholland ruled that Edinburgh City Council had the legal authority to bury the bodies after Melvyn Marcel failed to attend court hearings.

Lawyers acting for the council told the court that they had not received instructions on how to proceed from the family of Mr and Mrs Marcel.

The couple's bodies were originally discovered in the basement of a former fishmonger's shop in the city's Gilmore Place in 2002, where the remains had reportedly been visited regularly by relatives.

Build a fridge

Police found the bodies during an investigation into alleged fraud at a funeral home in West Lothian.

It was claimed that staff at the Broxburn undertakers had been paid to preserve the remains and four employees were sacked.

However, none of those who were allegedly involved in the fraud were charged or prosecuted for any offence.

Following the discovery, the remains were taken to the city's Cowgate mortuary.

Image copyright bbc
Image caption Hilda Marcel died in 1987

The court was told that Melvyn Marcel had wanted to build a fridge in his home to place the bodies in until he built a private mausoleum in the grounds of his property.

He was eventually planning to take his parents' bodies to be buried in the West Bank in Gaza in the Middle East.

However, Lord Mulholland ruled that the council had the legal right to arrange the burial for the couple.

In his judgement, he said that Melvyn Marcel had repeatedly failed to attend hearings in the case.

He wrote: "It is clear to me that the defender had no intention of attending and was deliberately ignoring the court's requests."

Image caption The couple's remains have been stored at the Cowgate mortuary since 2002

The judge added: "The defender has indicated his intention to build a refrigerated unit within his residential property within which the bodies will be stored.

"This is a temporary measure until an above ground vault is built to house the bodies. No further information on these matters has been provided to the pursuers [Edinburgh City Council].

"The pursuer understands that the defender's intention ultimately is to have the bodies of his parents transferred to the West Bank in Gaza for burial."

Mrs Marcel had died in 1987 from lung cancer whilst her husband passed away from prostate cancer aged 91 in 1994.

Lord Mulholland pointed out that the bodies had been in the city's mortuary for many years and added: "No doubt at some cost to the City of Edinburgh at a time when the public purse is under significant constraint."

He added that Melvyn Marcel's intention to build a mausoleum did not appear realistic "or anything more than a vague statement of intent".

It is not known when Edinburgh City Council will bury the couple.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites