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Mum Begins Legal Battle After Claiming Her Baby's Grave Has Been Empty For 45 Years

Mum Begins Legal Battle After Claiming Her Baby's Grave Has Been Empty For 45 Years

A heartbroken mum has launched a double legal battle after claiming her dead baby was unlawfully retained and she was given an empty coffin to bury.

Lydia Reid has been fighting to find out what happened to her one-week-old baby Gary Paton since he passed away at a hospital in Edinburgh back in 1975.

She has always believed the body she was shown wasn't his and, after exhuming his grave three years ago, a forensic expert confirmed it contained no remains.

Saughton Cemetery where the 'baby' was buried. Credit: Creative Commons
Saughton Cemetery where the 'baby' was buried. Credit: Creative Commons
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The 71-year-old is now preparing to go to court to have what is left of her son's remains returned to her. She is also launching a £75,000 legal case against the Crown Office and Scotmid Co-operative Funerals, who dealt with Gary's burial.

Lydia from Clermiston, Edinburgh, told the Daily Record: "The first of the legal cases have just been served on them. We're suing them for £75,000 over the fact that they didn't put my son in the grave.

"We are holding them jointly responsible as we believe Scotmid gave us an empty coffin.

"It's been three years since we discovered Gary wasn't in his grave. We thought we would get his ashes returned to us after that and he could be laid to rest, but nothing has changed."

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Edinburgh's Royal Hospital for Sick Children. Credit: PA
Edinburgh's Royal Hospital for Sick Children. Credit: PA

When Gary died at Edinburgh's Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Lydia claims staff told her she was ill and suffering from post-natal depression because she refused to accept the body they had shown her was her baby's.

In August 2017, Gary's burial plot at Saughton Cemetery was exhumed after Lydia won a court order and it was examined by a forensic anthropologist called Professor Sue Black.

It was then revealed there were no skeletal remains and no sign of decomposition. Instead, Prof Black found a shawl, a hat, a cross and a name tag in the burial plot, as well as the disintegrated coffin with Gary's name spelled incorrectly.

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At the time, Prof Black said there was 'only one possible logical explanation' which was that the body was 'not put in that coffin'.

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The NHS has previously admitted that about 6,000 organs and tissue samples were retained by Scottish hospitals between 1970 and 2000 - many from children.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

She says Police Scotland have offered to carry out DNA testing to prove the organ samples the Crown holds are Gary's, but Lydia wants a third party to handle the case.

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She said: "I want this to be dealt with by an independent, professional company who have no agenda. They will give truthful information but also ensure I get every single piece back."

Lydia's solicitor Mark Thorley, at Thorley Stephenson, has confirmed legal proceedings are now under way.

Lydia said she won't give up. Credit: Daily Record
Lydia said she won't give up. Credit: Daily Record

James Blackburn, Head of Scotmid Co-operative Funerals, said: "There are no words we can offer that will alleviate the anguish suffered by Mrs Reid in this difficult situation.

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"When we learnt of the circumstances, our first actions were to meet with Mrs Reid and her family, and to refer the matter to the police.

"We will continue to offer our full cooperation in any legal process. We genuinely regret that Mrs Reid still has unanswered questions, from many quarters. This must be an incredibly difficult time for her and we will play our part in what is clearly an important process.

"As there is an ongoing police investigation, with which we are cooperating fully, and now a civil court action, it would not be appropriate for us to comment further."

A Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service spokesman added: "The investigation is ongoing. As such it would not be appropriate to comment at this time."

A police spokesman said: "Police Scotland has a dedicated enquiry team who have been investigating this matter since it was reported to us and we continue to undertake a number of lines of enquiry to fully understand the circumstances.

"Police Scotland continue to work closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to seek answers for the family."

Featured Image Credit: Daily Record

Topics: Community, UK

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Rebecca Shepherd

I'm Becky - a journalist at LADbible. I graduated with a First Class BA in Journalism before going on to cover criminal court cases, medical tribunals and breaking news for the national media - which inevitably and eventually became as glum as it sounds. Can often be found rocking a bag for life - which I made a 'thing' way before Rihanna. You can contact me at [email protected]