'Spiteful' mum filled in false paperwork to stop ex-husband attending their son's funeral
Published 22/05/2015 | 17:53
A "vindictive and spiteful" mother who filled in false paperwork to stop her ex-husband attending their son's cremation has been jailed for four months.
Cathleen Hackney was convicted of two charges under the 1902 Cremations Act last month after jurors heard that no-one attended the funeral of Paul Moreland.
The offences of signing a false certificate and making a false representation with a view to procuring the burning of human remains meant Mr Moreland's father, Paul Barber, was unaware that his son's funeral was taking place.
Hackney, of Park View Close, Blurton, Stoke-on-Trent, remained composed in the dock at the city's Crown Court as she was jailed by Judge David Fletcher.
The judge, who also ordered Hackney to pay Mr Barber £5,000 in compensation, said the breaches of the Cremations Act had led to Mr Moreland's relatives being "kept completely in the dark" about his funeral in 2010.
Judge Fletcher told Hackney: "I have no doubt that this is a case where your actions were intended to cause harm specifically to Mr Barber.
"You willingly violated the criminal law to achieve that aim."
Adding that Mr Barber had undoubtedly suffered psychological distress, the judge told his former wife: "Your behaviour undermined a serious and important process in the most fundamental way.
"Your behaviour has plumbed the depths and can properly be described as selfish and egocentric. It's an old-fashioned word, I know, but your behaviour was wicked."
Hackney was cleared of a second offence of signing a false certificate.
During a five-day trial, the 56-year-old denied deliberately "slotting in" her son's body for a 9.30am service at Stafford Crematorium because of bitterness towards Mr Barber.
Mr Moreland, who had a long-standing health condition, died in hospital in November 2010 at the age of 32.
Although Judge Fletcher accepted that her son's death had been "upsetting and highly emotional" for Hackney, he said a clear message needed to be sent out that such offences would not be condoned.
Criticising Hackney for "doggedly" pursuing her defence, the judge told her: "You were vindictive and you were spiteful. You did this ... because you continued to harbour bitter feelings towards your ex-husband."
Hackney's trial heard that she and Mr Barber divorced in 1983 in "acrimonious" circumstances and subsequent contact relating to their son was marred by dispute and conflict.
Opening the case against Hackney at the start of the trial, prosecutor Deborah Gould said the cremation took place after an "unedifying" legal dispute involving solicitors acting for both parties.
Ms Gould told jurors that forms signed by Hackney wrongly stated that there were no relatives who were unaware of the cremation, and that none of them opposed it taking place.
Jurors also heard that the defendant "pressed ahead" with the cremation despite Mr Barber's objections being made clear to her by his solicitors.
Speaking after Hackney was jailed, Mr Barber told reporters: "I am just glad that it's all over and justice has been served.
"It wouldn't have come to this if she hadn't been so vindictive. I'm not glad it's come to this but she 's has done what she's done and she's going to have to live with it."