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'I've never seen anything like it': Cop on coffin swap claim

'I've never seen anything like it': Cop on coffin swap claim”

A family has been left outraged after a funeral home allegedly swapped the expensive coffin of their grandmother to a cheap box.

Meanwhile, letters written by her grandchildren and placed on her heart were thrown away.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Rockhampton CIB Detective Sergeant Craig Strohfeldt said police would put "a lot of resources" into its fraud investigation.

They told the Rockhampton Bulletin the priest blessed Mrs Valigura's coffin before it was carried out by her grandchildren and taken to the Rockhampton crematorium.

The $1,700 oak, silk-lined coffin of Janice Valigura, who died on New Year's Eve, was replaced with a $70 pine casket during her funeral (Supplied).The 74-year-old grandmother was moved from her oak, silk-lined coffin to a pine box similar to this (AAP).

Queensland Police are investigating the matter.

"It's only been alleged at this stage but if investigations do prove that an offence has been committed it is a shocking thing".

"The family would have gone to a huge effort to give Janice a respectful send-off and what she was put in was absolutely degrading to my aunty", Ms Valigura's niece said.

Det Sgt Strohfeldt said the investigation had begun and in his time he'd never seen "a case of this nature".

Harts promises "to act with dignity and respect" according to its website. The funeral director and business owner, Tony Hart, declined to comment, but Rothery says she and Valigura's son Mick met with him the next day and were told the coffin-swapping practice is "commonplace" in the mortuary business.

Whitsunday Funerals and Crematorium managing director Jeff Boyle told the paper that the funeral industry lacks regulations as a whole.

The funeral home at the centre of the allegations, Harts Family Funerals, was raided today by investigators.

"It's like buying a Mercedes and getting a Toyota Corolla, that's not common practice" Mr Brown said.

"We pride ourselves on offering families a funeral that is affordable, professional, modern in standards and of the highest integrity", he says.



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