Burglar searched DEAD BODIES for jewellery during raids

Marc Griffin Barnstaple burglar DCP

Marc Griffin has been jailed for two years and seven months - Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

A burglar searched dead bodies for jewellery and scattered ashes onto the floor after breaking into a funeral director’s shop.

Marc Griffin opened coffins, read a letter which was due to be buried with one of the bodies, and left fridges in the mortuary open during the raid on the Chapel of Rest in Barnstaple, Devon.

He unzipped body bags so he could look for jewellery on the bodies of two women and rifled through clothes which the deceased were due to be dressed in for their funerals the next day.

He also ransacked other parts of the Padfields Funeral Service, left a trail of blood across the floor, and stole the keys to one of their hearses.

The families of the deceased were left horrified and devastated when they were told of the intrusion just hours before the funerals of their loved ones, who included a 99-year-old former World War Two servicewoman.

The other bodies which were disturbed were of a 90-year-old grandfather and a 94-year-old great grandmother.

Their families wrote victim impact statements which said: “It is hard to express the depth of my anger and upset which has aggravated our family’s grief. 

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"My mother was in a place where she should have been safe and at peace.

"I was horrified that someone had broken in and disturbed Mum. The whole family is devastated that she has been violated in this way. We have been robbed of the chance to remember and grieve and it has magnified the trauma of her death.”

Another relative said: “The thought of someone opening the fridge and searching for items of jewellery has left us sickened and upset. 

"Our family are deeply shocked and horrified that the sanctuary of the funeral directors has been violated.”

Griffin broke into the shop during a half-hour crime spree in the early hours of March 13 this year, in which he also burgled a café and a hair salon, stealing a till and charity boxes.

He has a long criminal record with 60 previous burglaries or attempts. He raided the shops because he was desperate for money to buy drugs, the court heard.

The 42 year old, of St Johns Road, Barnstaple, admitted three commercial burglaries and was jailed for two years and seven months by Judge Paul Cook at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: “In the past, you have stolen from the living. On this occasion, you set out to steal from the deceased. You demonstrated a total indifference to their dignity and to the pain distress and horror which you inevitably caused to their loved ones.

“They say you robbed them of their chance to grieve and magnified their trauma many times over.”

Althea Brooks, prosecuting, said Griffin cut his hand while smashing his way into the Lemon next to the Pie café and left blood at the scene of the burglaries at Padfield’s and the Sophisticut salon.

The owner of the café was so upset by the burglary that she sold her business a few weeks later.

Evie Dean, defending, said had long-standing issues with substance abuse. 

“He tells me he was deeply embarrassed about his actions and has indicated remorse,” she said.