John Bowers buried the urn believing it contained his mother Doreen’s ashes (Reuters)
John Bowers buried the urn believing it contained his mother Doreen’s ashes (Reuters)

A man has condemned a crematorium after staff gave him the sweepings off the floor and told him they were his mother's ashes.

John Bowers, 47, buried the urn at his family plot four years ago believing it contained the remains of his mother Doreen.

The original ashes were handed over to Bowers' estranged sister, Kim Collins, in February 2009 without his knowledge or consent.

When Bowers turned up two months later to collect the ashes, staff at Enfield Crematorium gave him floor sweepings.

Bowers told the Enfield Advertiser: "They let me bury a pot of leftovers in a family plot with my father and grandmother. That is the most upsetting thing for me.

"The whole scenario is immoral and disgusting. You couldn't make it up."

Bowers, a builder from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, only realised that two sets of ashes had been given out after a reunion with his sister last year. He contacted Haringey Council which admitted that staff had handed him the false ashes

"This has put a lot of stress and strain on my family, including my children who were close to my mother," said Bowers.

"Haringey Council have told me when they cremate a body there are surplus ashes which are swept up off the floor and put in a bucket, which is what they gave me."

Bowers spent £4,000 investigating the case. "It's got to the point where it is insulting," he said. "They have not been very sympathetic or understanding. I just want the truth about what has gone on and why."

Lyn Garner, a Haringey Council director, said: "We have apologised unreservedly to Mr Bowers and his family for the distress and anguish caused and we are happy to do so again today.

"It was wrong that Mr Bowers was given a false set of ashes and the officer who did this, acting alone, has been disciplined.

"As soon as this matter was brought to the council's attention last year an urgent investigation took place. Since then we have reviewed our procedures and believe we have as robust a set of arrangements in place as possible."