Corpse mystery solved after mum's body handed over
Published 12/11/2010 | 05:00
THE body of a woman that disappeared after it was brought from Malta to Ireland by her son has been surrendered to the British authorities.
Surrey coroner's office has told the Irish Independent that the remains of 91-year-old Gladys Whigham have turned up in south London, in the area where she lived for much of her life.
The body had last been seen in mid-October in Kenmare, Co Kerry, where it was laid out in the bedroom of a house for almost a fortnight.
Both the gardai and Surrey police said last night that they were not treating the matter as suspicious and that no investigations were to be launched.
Mrs Whigham's son Nathan originally flew his mother's remains from Malta to the UK, before loading her coffin into a car and taking it to the west of Ireland via Rosslare.
The widow, who was well known in her local area of Putney, London, was a lay preacher. She was described by former church minister Ceri Lewis this week as "a very special person" with "a lovely smile".
He said: "She was gifted in so many areas of life and she used those gifts to give to others."
Mrs Whigham died of natural causes in September while on holiday with her son in Malta.
Mr Whigham, who is in his early 60s, is said to have been devoted to his mother and arranged for her remains to be embalmed and flown back to the UK in a sealed coffin, all with proper documentation.
From there, however, the story took a bizarre twist, as the coffin was placed in a car and taken by sea and land to Kenmare, without the knowledge of the Irish authorities.
Mrs Whigham's remains were then laid out in the upstairs bedroom of a rented house in the Kerry town, where it is understood that they remained for a fortnight.
The matter came to the attention of the Kerry-south coroner, Terence Casey, who informed Mr Whigham that as his mother's remains posed a serious health risk, he would have to arrange for the body to be either cremated or buried.
A few days later, when gardai called to the terraced house, Mr Whigham and his mother's body had vanished.
It is believed that Mr Whigham placed the body back into the coffin, which was in turn loaded into an estate car.
From there, however, the whereabouts of the coffin and its contents had remained a mystery -- until yesterday.