Thursday 26 April 2018

Missing son hoped to bury mum in 'beautiful orchard'

Majella O'Sullivan

THE adoring son of an elderly woman whose body went missing in Kerry told locals he wanted to bury her in a "beautiful orchard".

Nathan or Nathanael Whigham phoned the Rector of St Patrick's Church of Ireland in Kenmare, the Reverend Michael Cavanagh, in a "distressed state" over the "horrible coffin" his mother Gladys had been placed in.

"He rang me up quite distressed and it took me a little while to get the story," Mr Cavanagh told the Irish Independent.

"He told me his mother had died in Malta and had been flown home in a horrible coffin and he was looking for somewhere to bury her with dignity. He was clearly distressed."

Mr Cavanagh said he found names of local undertakers for Mr Whigham and tried to reassure him that they would keep her somewhere safe to give him time to decide what to do.

"He clearly did not know what to do," Mr Cavanagh added. "I was trying my best to help him but I think he was in such a distressed state he was not listening to rationality."

Mrs Whigham died in Malta on September 24. It is understood Mr Whigham drove her remains from Gatwick Airport in early October to their rented home in Cromwell Court in Kenmare town.

Neighbours say the Whighams had been renting the house since April or May but had been living in the Kenmare area for two years.

Authorities only became aware of the situation when the landlord called to the house and notified gardai, who then notified the Kerry county coroner, Terence Casey, who advised Mr Whigham to arrange for a cremation or burial or the remains would be confiscated.


When gardai returned to the house on October 18 there was no sign of Mr Whigham or his mother's remains. Gardai believe the body was driven back to the UK via the North.

It is understood that Mr Whigham approached a local person to enquire about buying some land in which to bury his mother at Reen, outside Kenmare. "He said he wanted to bury her in a beautiful place like an orchard or somewhere with a view," a neighbour said.

A woman who had been a carer for Mrs Whigham while her son attended to business in London told how Mr Whigham had "idolised" his mother.

"It's such a very sad situation and people don't realise just how much he adored and idolised his mother," she said.

"She had the best of everything, every comfort, and the best of food, which he liquidised for her. He really looked after her well. He was also very precise about the way she was washed. I always had to wear gloves because he was terrified of infection."

Neighbours said the family seemed to be "well-to-do". Mr Whigham travelled everywhere by taxi and when he travelled to London for three days he hired 24-hour care for his mother.

It is understood that Mr Whigham had to travel to England after squatters had moved into his mother's house. He told neighbours the house contained a number of valuable paintings and he had to see how much had been taken.

"It was obvious he was stone mad about his mother," a neighbour said. "He used to take her out in her wheelchair. He'd always stop and say 'hello'."

Kenmare undertaker John Finnegan said he had not been contacted to make funeral arrangements but he confirmed he had helped Mr Whigham load a coffin containing his mother's remains into Mr Whigham's car over two weeks ago, apparently to be transported back to Putney, near London.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News