A FAMILY is furious that funeral directors left their mother’s body in an unrefrigerated retrieval van while they visited the Bingara Orange Festival.
Funeral directors Terry and Shirley Goater say they did nothing wrong, after collecting the body of Judith Newman from a Moree nursing home on the night of July 6.
“We had plans for the Saturday so we left the car going and left her in the car and then when we came home, four hours later, we proceeded to Inverell,” Mrs Goater said.
“It [the air-conditioning] was on until we left, you’re allowed to keep a body eight hours without refrigeration.”
Mrs Newman’s body spent the night in a retrieval van in the Goater’s industrial yard, the air-conditioning was turned off in the morning when they left to visit the orange festival.
Later that afternoon the body was transported to Thorley and Sons mortuary in Inverell.
“The body was A-okay as far as we’re concerned,” Mrs Goater said.
Mrs Newman’s family is furious after they say their mother prepaid $6500 for a funeral.
Daughter Dianne Chappell said her mother, a pensioner, had scraped together the money for the funeral.
“There’s just no respect,” she said.
“They never even had a coffin to take her up in, she went up in the back of the van.”
The deceased are not usually transported in a coffin to the mortuary in a retrieval van.
The Goater’s said Mrs Newman had not requested a church service, so they asked for another $500 from the family and the priest had to be paid another $200 on top of that.
Temperatures reached a maximum of 17.4 degrees on the day Mrs Newman’s body was left in the retrieval van.
“You wouldn’t treat a dog like that, the thing I can’t get my head around is them leaving her in that yard while they went to an orange festival,” Mrs Chappell said.
“Instead of taking her to Inverell and driving back to Bingara.”
There is no national regulatory body for funeral directors in Australia; businesses can be set up without specific training or qualifications and no licence is necessary.
A NSW Fair Trading spokesman said some funeral directors choose to be members of professional associations.
The Goater’s are now retired from the business.