Sisters horrified at brothers burial in wrong grave like family black sheep

A bereaved family have been left distraught after their brother was buried in the 'wrong' grave.

Clive Stephenson, who died from a brain tumour in February 2020 aged 50, was meant to be buried beside his mum in Handsworth Cemetery, Birmingham.

His sisters, Vivienne and Jean Honeyghan were so numb with grief on the day of his funeral that they could not protest when undertakers lowered the coffin somewhere else.

Vivienne told the Sunday Mercury: "They could not have placed my brother farther from my mother if they tried. They’ve made him look like the black sheep of the family."

To add to their anguish, the family say father-of-seven Clive was placed in a plot so sodden, it was filling with water as the coffin was lowered into it.

Birmingham City Council has already apologised and met the family on-site in a bid to resolve the issue.

They have offered to exhume the body, at their own cost, and place it in the grave of another sister, Ionia Stephenson, who died only months after Clive, a painter and decorator from Northfield.

The local authority has told them it cannot put Clive, one of nine siblings, close to his mother Rita’s 40-year-old grave because that section of the cemetery is no longer used for burials.

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But support worker Vivienne – a cousin of former boxing world champ Lloyd Honeyghan – alleges graves have been placed in the area since her brother’s funeral.

Since Clive’s death, the family say the grandmother of his three youngest children has been buried close to him so they no longer want his body to be moved, but want the council to pay for a memorial stone on Clive’s grave.

Vivienne claims a decision was made on the day of the funeral to change plots because the planned one was badly waterlogged but no one told her until afterwards.

She said: “We paid so much money for that grave. We are a close family. He is miles from the rest of his family. His last wish has not been realised. The council messed up. We want them to take responsibility, we want an apology stating they have done this.”

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Bishop Jaddoo is currently attempting to broker a solution. He said: “His final wish was to be buried as close as possible to his mother. They buried him on the edge of Handsworth Cemetery, it could not be further from his mother’s grave."

A spokesman for the local authority told the Sunday Mercury: “Unfortunately, the request for the late Mr Stephenson to be buried as close to his mother’s grave as possible was not passed onto Handsworth Cemetery prior to the funeral.

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"However, any request to locate a grave in a specific area cannot be guaranteed due to the uncertainty of ground conditions, and the paperwork which the family of the late Mr Stephenson signed, makes this clear.

"On the day in question, extremely heavy rainfall and high water table level had made the area in which the late Mr Stephenson was intended to be buried impossible to excavate and so, in accordance with the cemetery’s terms and conditions, the closest available traditional style grave, was used.

"The council is now in discussion with the family and Desmond Jadoo to seek a resolution. The city has apologised to the family immediately for the understandable upset which these events caused when it was brought to our attention and has explained the reasons behind it."

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