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Family ‘horrified’ as gran’s coffin gets ‘jammed head-first’ in grave

Grieving family horrified after gran's coffin got 'jammed head-first' in grave

Elaine McGuire’s mother said ‘it would have been funny if it wasn’t so tragic’ (Pictures: MEN Media)

The grieving family of an ‘adored’ grandmother has described how their plans for a dignified send-off turned into ‘the worst experience ever’ when her coffin got ‘jammed head-first’ in the plot.

Elaine McGuire passed away at the age of 53 in September last year following a long illness.

Her widower Vincent McGuire, 60, decided to have the mum-of-three and gran-of two buried at Mill Lane Cemetery in Cheadle, Stockport, close to their home in Levenshulme.

But what should have been a chance for him and 200 other mourners to pay their final respects became a ‘shocking and embarrassing’ sight when her casket got stuck as it was lowered into the ground.

Mr McGuire said he was so angry at the botch he considered making the staff ‘take her out and do it all again’ but he didn’t want to put his children through it.

Elaine’s mother Josie Buckley, 80, said: ‘It was horrendous. The worst experience ever. It was like watching a comedy on television, it wasn’t real.

‘It would have been funny if it wasn’t so tragic.’

Vincent McGuire and his mother-in-law at Mill Lane Cemetery, Stockport.  Vincent McGuire is pursuing complaints against a funeral directors and Stockport Council after the funeral of his wife left him shocked and embarrassed.  June 7, 2022

Vincent McGuire and his mother-in-law at Mill Lane Cemetery (Picture: MEN Media)

Mr McGuire told the Manchester Evening News the nightmare started before the burial.

He was initially denied his preferred plot choice and said he could see frills spilling out the sides of the closed casket when it arrived for the church service.

The live stream of the ceremony for mourners unable to attend was also criticized as ‘shabby and unprofessional’.

And then the funeral directors told him he and other family members wouldn’t be able to act as pallbearers because the hole which had been dug was already ‘buckling’.

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Mr McGuire said his wife’s casket got stuck as it was lowered into the ground for the first time, and described how one of the graveyard staff had to climb down to dig out some of the timber shoring.

Mr McGuire said: It was just so shocking to see. Shocking and embarrassing.’

He recalled: ‘It went down head-first, went down three feet then got jammed at the back. One of the other mourners intervened and told them to take it out.

‘It got lifted back out and left on the ground. Then the cemetery got involved. I couldn’t believe what was happening.’

Mr McGuire said: ‘I still can’t sleep. I wanted to give her the best of her and what we got was rubbish.

‘If it wasn’t for my children I’d have them take her out and do it all again. But my family doesn’t want that.

‘I don’t want pity from anyone. It’s not about the money. Any money we get back I will be donating to charity, to St Ann’s Hospice.’

Elaine McGuire, 53, who died in September 2021 but whose funeral was blighted by an issue with her coffin not fitting into her grave.

Elaine McGuire, 53, who died in September 2021 (Picture: McGuire family/MEN Media)

Mr Maguire has been pursuing complaints against Kane Funeral Services and Stockport Council ever since.

He lodged a claim at the county court in a bid to recover £2,035 paid to Kane for ‘professional services’.

In the claim documents, he said he could not explain ‘the level of great distress’ that incident had caused and that it had ‘created memories that will distress me and my family forever’.

A judgment ordering Kane’s to pay him the money was issued last month after the company failed to reply.

The funeral firm told the MEN it was not aware of the legal proceedings but would have ‘felt vindicated in fighting any judgment as we feel we conducted ourselves with the utmost dignity and professionalism’.

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A spokesman added: ‘We are aware that the upset caused to Mr Maguire and his family can’t be undone but we yet again would like to extend our deepest and most sincere condolences for the loss of Elaine.’

The council has apologized to Vincent for what happened and how it was handled.

They told him an ‘air pocket’ causing the surrounding ground to become unstable meant the burial had to be done more quickly than anticipated and have offered to pay for a priest to come and send prayers again at the graveside.

However, they claimed information given to them about the size of the casket was ‘not accurate’ and that the coffin was not lowered correctly.

Kane Funeral Services refute this and insist accurate information was given. They also insist the funeral was handled with the ‘utmost care and consideration’.

Vincent McGuire at Mill Lane Cemetery, Stockport.  Vincent McGuire is pursuing complaints against a funeral directors and Stockport Council after the funeral of his wife left him shocked and embarrassed.  June 7, 2022

Mr McGuire is pursuing complaints against a funeral directors and Stockport Council (Picture: MEN Media)

A spokesman for Kane Funeral Services said: ‘We can confirm that the funeral of the late Elaine McGuire was carried out with the utmost care and consideration as all funerals the company undertakes are.

‘We are aware of the situation in question and while we understand why and how this would have been upsetting for Mr McGuire, we provided the staff at Mill Lane with the correct measurements.

‘This is no way helps alleviate the pain he feels and we here at Kanes offer our most sincere and heartfelt condolences, we have had several conversations with Mr McGuire in which we tried our very best to help him get answers to why the issue with the serious had occurred.

‘The outer measurements of the casket were provided and we have proof of this through the coffin order form from Halliday’s Funeral Supplies and the Internment form from Stockport Council.’

An investigation was carried out by the council’s complaints department and was partially upheld.

Mr McGuire referred them to the Local Government Ombudsman though they declined to investigate as they ruled the council had ‘explained what went wrong and apologised’.

Mark Glynn, Director of Place Management at Stockport Council, said: ‘We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr McGuire for his loss and would like to once again offer our sincerest apologies for what transpired at such a difficult and traumatic time for Mr McGuire and his Familia.’

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