Cremated against his wishes?
PUBLISHED: 11:27 17 May 2007 | UPDATED: 22:47 28 May 2010
EVEN in death Tony Copley s on-line gambling addiction, which caused him to go bankrupt last year with debts of £80,000, is causing concern to his relatives. For Mr Copley, who has died, aged 72, at his Fenland home of kidney failure and pneumonia, is at
EVEN in death Tony Copley's on-line gambling addiction, which caused him to go bankrupt last year with debts of £80,000, is causing concern to his relatives.
For Mr Copley, who has died, aged 72, at his Fenland home of kidney failure and pneumonia, is at the centre of a row over whether he should have been cremated or buried.
His nephew Mike Swift claims family members were refused access to his flat in a council-run retirement home to recover money which could have paid for a burial.
"He never wanted to be cremated after he witnessed some people being burned to death in Plymouth after their house was bombed, when he served in the Second World War," said Mr Swift. "But my brother Francis was forced to give the go-ahead for a cremation while I was out of the country, because we were not allowed into the flat to see if there were any funds left by our uncle to go towards a burial."
Mr Swift said numerous and unsuccessful attempts were made to gain access to Mr Copley's flat at St Mary's Care Home, Whittlesey.
"We kept pushing the council to let us in because we wanted him buried to his wishes. In the end we just had to give up because we could not come to a mutual agreement with the council to get into the flat.
"No-one has explained why we were not allowed into the property. I rang them to get in and they kept saying I was not allowed in, although I was known to the housing warden because I visited my uncle a lot."
Mr Copley died on April 5 in Peterborough District Hospital, more than a week after he was found collapsed in his flat.
Mr Swift, of Barnfield Gardens, Coates, said it was not until May 5, the day after the funeral, that Mr Swift and his brother got into the flat to recover his property. By then it was too late.
A Fenland Council spokesman said: "An officer is currently looking into the family allegations and will be responding to the family as soon as possible."
Mr Copley told the Cambs Times last year how he lost £20,000 in three months after becoming hooked on gambling and owed a further £67,000 on credit cards and loans.
"I was like an alcoholic hooked on drink," he said. "My story should be a warning to others.