Repatriation Service Delivers Wrong Body To Grieving Family

Repatriation Error Causes Trauma For Irish Family

Greys Funeral Home, Templemore, Tipperary, Ireland. Credit:

A family from Ireland were left traumatised when a repatriation service delivered the body of a Frenchman, instead of their father, following his death in Spain.

On Tuesday, July 26, a High Court heard how three siblings, Jackie Costelloe, Neville Curley and Elizabeth Ann Curley-Poppe were left with psychiatric injuries, when they received the wrong body, instead of their father, widower Michael Curley, writes The Irish Times.

The family have sued an international undertaker, an English repatriation service and a funeral home in Templemore, Tipperary, after the severe trauma they suffered following the tragic mix-up.

83- year-old Michael Curley died of a heart attack in February 2016, while holidaying on the island of Lanzarote.

Acting on behalf of the grieving family, David Kennedy said the defendant’s negligence, not to mention breach of contract, led to the ‘difficult and delicate’ circumstances experienced by the family. He added that all the defendants have denied liability and filed a ‘full defence.’

Ms Costelloe was with her father in Spain and saw his body over there. Mr Curley also flew over and saw his father’s body at the Lanzarote funeral home, before arrangements were made to bring his body back to Ireland.

Family Left Traumatised

Mr Kennedy told the court that when Mr Curley went to see his father’s body at Grey’s Funeral Home in their hometown of Templemore, the undertaker told him to prepare himself as his father did ‘not look well’ and that foreign embalming services were not as good as they are in Ireland.

Mr Curley was later asked to return to the funeral home, where a tag found on the body identified that man was a French citizen.

Mr Curley described how he and his siblings were ‘utterly shocked’ by the appearance of the body. Ms Costelloe described the experience of seeing the body in Templemore as ‘like a horror movie. [The body] bore no resemblance whatsoever to my father.’

According to Ms Costelloe, the man had ‘very sallow’ skin and ‘jet black’ hair, with cuts on his face from shards of glass. The corpse had also been subjected to a post-mortem.

Ms Costelloe said, ‘do not even bother putting that man into his suit. That body has gone through enough trauma … I just wanted to get out of there.”

Repatriation Services Deny Liability

The defendants: Spanish-based Memora Servicios Funerarios Internacionales SL and repatriation service Rowland Brothers International Limited, Surrey, England, recognised the error and quickly rectified it, enabling the late Mr Curley’s funeral to go ahead as planned.

Despite an apology being issued to the family for the ‘additional inconvenience and upset,’ the defendants deny they are liable for the alleged injuries caused to the plaintiffs. The hearing continues today.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.