Family torn apart by urn’s removal

Vivien Robson

Vivien Robson

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A family has been torn apart after a Berwick man took his father’s ashes from his elderly mother’s garden.

Joseph Pringle, 64, died from heart failure in 1996 and his remains were buried in his wife Ruby’s back garden at Adams Drive in Spittal.

They were stored in an urn and hidden under a rose bush, where they remained for 17 years.

But in November, Mrs Pringle, now 82, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, went into the garden and discovered the urn had vanished, while the rose bush had been upended.

Her eldest son, Stephen Pringle, was 52 charged with stealing the cremated remains. He admitted taking them but, at Berwick Magistrates’ Court last Monday, he was found not guilty of committing a criminal offence.

Now Stephen’s siblings Vivien Robson, 58, Ann Chissel, 46, and Gordon, 48, are appealing to Stephen to let them know where the ashes are.

Vivien said: “It is like my dad has died all over again but now we don’t have anything to show for it.

“When he died we knew where he was and now it is like that closure has been taken away from us. This has wrecked the whole family.”

The family visited Ormiston, Joseph’s birthplace in East Lothian, where Stephen claims the ashes were scattered, and raked through rubbish bins to try and find it.

Stephen’s solicitor Ian O’Rourke called it the ‘most extraordinary case’ he had ever dealt with.

He said: “This is a dreadful and very sad case and one that should never have been brought to court in the first place. Stephen did not act dishonestly at all.”

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