A mother has been jailed after she was found guilty of cremating her son without his father's knowledge or consent following an argument.

Cathleen Hackney, 56, from Blurton, Stoke-on-Trent, was found guilty of signing a false certificate and making a false representation with a view to procuring the burning of human remains.

Hackney was found to have lied to funeral directors so she could alter the arrangements of her son Paul Moreland's funeral so his father, Paul Barber, could not attend.

Moreland died in November 2010 from a chronic liver disease aged 32.

Hackney has now been jailed for four months after being convicted under a law from the 1902 Cremation Act which is not thought have been used in a prosecution for almost a century. She was also ordered to pay Barber £5,000 ($7,740) in compensation.

Despite being divorced since 1983, Stoke Crown Court heard how Hackney and Barber still had an "acrimonious" relationship.

Following a dispute over the phone the day after Moreland's death, Hackney then lied to the funeral directors and "slotted in" a 9.30am cremation – a time usually reserved for people with no mourners – without telling Barber.

Hackney filled in a number of forms saying no relative objected to the cremation.

Acting out of "spite", the court heard how Hackney did not even attend her son's cremation herself.

Barber, 56, only found out his son had been cremated three hours after the service had taken place via a phone message left by his solicitor. Speaking outside the court, he said he still does not know where his son's ashes are buried.

Upon sentencing, Judge Justice Fletcher said Hackney's behaviour had "plumbed the depths and was egocentric".

He added: "You knew your son wanted his father present with him at the hospital.

"You cannot have expected him to have wanted what ultimately transpired – a funeral with not one member of his family or any friends present.

"You did this because you continue to harbour bitter feelings to your ex-husband 30 years after your divorce."