Dad's anger as burial plot reserved next to daughter's grave is used

WHEN his daughter died 21 years ago, to help with his grief Colin Cleverley reserved the neighbouring plot in the cemetery.

Saturday, 25th March 2017, 6:01 am
Updated Saturday, 25th March 2017, 11:54 am
Colin Cleverley at his daughter Samantha's grave. Behind is the plot he thought he'd bought Picture: Sarah Standing (170413-4800)

But during a visit earlier this month, he was furious to discover the place he thought was for him had been dug up ready for a funeral.

The 61-year-old complained to the Denmead Parish Council, which owns the cemetery off Kidmore Lane, and it told him an error meant his reserved plot was elsewhere.

And now he has been refused a refund.

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Colin Cleverley at his daughter Samantha's grave. Behind is the plot he thought he'd bought Picture: Sarah Standing (170413-4800)

Mr Cleverley said the mix-up has brought up some of the pain he felt when his daughter Samantha died, aged 16 in a car crash.

‘It was really important for me to be buried next to my little girl,’ he said.

‘Knowing I could lie next to her when I died and we would be together again helped me while I was grieving.

‘But for this to happen 21 years later is terrible.’

Colin's daughter Samantha, aged four

Mr Cleverley, from Denmead, noticed the mistake when he visited Samantha’s grave on her birthday on March 8.

He added: ‘There was a hole in the ground where I thought I would be buried.

‘When I asked, they said the funeral was taking place the next day and I didn’t want to cause another family grief by causing too much trouble.

‘The parish council looked into it and said my plot had been reserved elsewhere, which is nowhere near Samantha’s grave. I said I’d compromise and instead be cremated and have my ashes put on her burial site.

Colin Cleverley at his daughter Samantha's grave. Behind is the plot he thought he'd bought Picture: Sarah Standing (170413-4800)

‘But I wanted a refund for the money I’d spent on reserving the plot.

‘They refused. They said all they could do is discuss it at their next committee meeting.

‘I have lived in Denmead all my life and when Samantha died there was a procession through the village.

‘You would expect the parish to look after you and help but they haven’t.’

Colin's daughter Samantha, aged four

Samantha was killed on May 15, 1996 when the car in which she was a passenger crashed into a tree.

She spent two weeks in intensive care before she died.

Mr Cleverley, a delivery driver, said: ‘After all this time we had accepted what happened to Samantha and were getting over it.

‘But to have this happen now, after all these years and on her birthday, is horrible.’

But Councillor Paula Langford-Smith, chairwoman of the council, said the plot Mr Cleverley wanted was not available at the time and another one was reserved.

She added at no point was it reserved for him.

Council says records show dad had different site

THE parish council in charge of the cemetery says from its records, Colin Cleverley had not reserved the plot he wanted.

Councillor Paula Langford-Smith, chairwoman of Denmead Parish Council, said: ‘On May 22, 1996 Samantha Cleverley was interred in grave number T59.

‘Over the next 12 months a number of interments took place in rows U, V and W. At the same time a number of reservations of plots in these rows also took place.

‘In May 1997, a request was received by Mr Cleverley to reserve a plot. The parish council holds records showing when Mr Cleverley first visited the office it is clear the closest plot to his daughter that was available to be reserved was W59.

‘Our records show Mr Cleverly completed the necessary forms and paid the necessary fees. We then wrote to him confirming his plot of W59. At no time was plot U59 reserved for Mr Cleverley as it had already been reserved in February 1997 by another parishioner.’

She added: ‘We have now made arrangements with Mr Cleverley so that his ashes can be interred with his daughter.

‘We are hugely sympathetic to him regarding this unfortunate set of circumstances. We understand his deep distress at witnessing a grave being prepared at a plot he assumed was reserved by him.’