Anger as Rockhampton man's funeral delayed for weeks

ON MONDAY, March 16, Beryl Constant's husband Alfred passed away from a sudden and unexpected heart attack.

Mrs Constant was told an autopsy would be carried out three days later on Thursday allowing for his burial the following Monday.

"You can imagine my alarm when the police turned up at my house on the Thursday night to tell us the autopsy could not be carried out for another week," she said yesterday.

"The entire family was very upset but when I rang the Coroner's office to see if there was any way it could be done sooner, I was told they hadn't even been informed of his death."

Mr Constant's funeral arrangements were already in place. Family and friends from interstate had booked flights so with no body, the family was forced to hold a memorial service, rather than a funeral.

"We weren't able to bury my husband until April 8 as our family couldn't come back to Rockhampton until then to be at the burial."

Mrs Constant said she was aware of other people who had faced a similar situation.

After talking to the police, she was told autopsies were carried out through the Coroner's office in Mackay on Thursdays only as there is no Coroner or government pathologist in Rockhampton.

"In our case, a pathologist was flown from Townsville and apparently this is a regular procedure," she said.

"I was so upset at this appalling situation that I wrote to both the Ministers for Justice and Health requesting something be done."

Mrs Constant received no response from either Minister so she wrote to the Premier, enclosing a copy of the previous letter.

"I have not received any acknowledgement from her either… I wonder how she would feel if this happened to her family.

"It would seem that Rockhampton is being overlooked for the most basic of facilities that other cities our size take for granted.

"We are, after all, a large city and it appears that our Premier and state Ministers couldn't care less about us."

The State Coroner's office offered no explanation as to why there is no government pathologist in Rockhampton but a spokesman said Alfred Constant's death was formally reported to them on March 20.

An order for an autopsy was made the following business day.

"There appears to have been a misunderstanding about which government entity should report the death to the OSC, resulting in a delay in the conduct of the autopsy," the spokesman said.

"It is sincerely regretted that this disrupted the family's funeral arrangements and caused additional distress during their time of grief."

Topics:  autopsy funeral heart attack

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