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Undertaker jailed for stealing purse from dead woman's home

AN undertaker who stole a purse from a woman hours after she died has been jailed.

Grahame Lawler (37) of Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, was called to the home of Muriel Swift (78) in July after police discovered her body.

One of the officers had searched the woman's handbag to find some ID and noticed her purse.

As there were no suspicious circumstances, Lawler and a colleague arrived and were left to recover the body. Once they left the officer gathered the woman's personal belongings and noticed the purse was missing.

Officers met Lawler at Papworth mortuary and arrested him on suspicion of theft. They searched him and found the purse.

Today he was sentenced to four months in jail at Cambridge Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to theft, Cambridgeshire Police said.

Jane Carpenter, a close friend of Ms Swift, said: "I was very shocked when I found out about this. When I was called by the police it was bad enough being told Muriel had passed away, but when I was told what he did, it was awful, I was shocked to the core and felt sick.

"Muriel was such a nice and kind person and wouldn't hurt anyone.

"I can't believe that anyone could walk into her home who was suppose to be doing their job and had the cheek to go into Muriel's purse.

"It is unbelievable. Thank goodness the officers twigged that the purse was missing and pursued this case.

"I don't know what was worse, being told she was dead or that she'd been robbed. I knew she had been ill, but being robbed by someone in his position is disgusting."

Detective Constable Jennie Scott said: "Lawler deliberately abused his position of trust and I am pleased he no longer works as a funeral worker."

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"It has been an extremely distressing experience for the victim's close friend and I hope they are now reassured that justice has been done."

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