Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Australian Funeral Director Charged with Theft
Neil Gray, who co-owns Ballina Funeral Home with his estranged wife Cheryl, spoke to The Northern Star at his Moon Street premises yesterday.
“I’ve been advised not to comment on the case so all I’ve got to say at this stage is the accusations are totally unfounded and the truth will prevail,” he said.
Mr Gray was arrested on Wednesday following a three-month investigation into a large amount of jewellery allegedly taken from bodies before burial and cremation services.
He was charged with four counts of larceny and two counts of goods in custody, and was conditionally bailed to appear in Ballina Local Court next month.
Richmond Local Area Command crime manager, Detective Inspector Greg Moore, said that the jewellery was handed in to police in September.
“Ballina detectives have charged a 66-year-old funeral director though I’m limited to what I can say in relation to that investigation as the matter is currently before the courts,” he said.
“On December 8 we executed a search warrant at the premises where records were seized, and through our inquiries we’ve been able to locate four families who positively identified jewellery as belonging to their loved ones.”
Det Insp Moore said that in each case the families had requested that the jewellery be buried or cremated with their loved ones.
He called on anyone who might be able to identify the remaining jewellery to come forward to assist police.
The president of the Australian Funeral Directors Association, John Scott, said news of the arrest had sent shock waves through the industry.
“Unfortunately this sort of incident casts aspersions on the industry as a whole,” he said.