Marc Griffin smashed his way into the chapel of rest at Padfields Funeral Services and rifled through drawers, cupboards and personal belongings of the deceased
Image: DEVON LIVE/BPM MEDIA)
A sick burglar has been put behind bars after ransacking a funeral parlour; tipping ashes of the deceased to the floor and trying to steal from the bodies of the dead.
Marc Griffin smashed his way into the chapel of rest at Padfields Funeral Services, in Barnstaple and rifled through drawers, cupboards and personal belongings of the deceased.
The looter also opened a sealed letter that a family intended to be placed into the coffin with their loved one, broke into collection boxes and stole the keys to the hear, Devon Live reports.
Griffin left a trial of destruction as he emptied ashes and tore crematorium certificates from boxes with his cut and bloodied hands.
Most shocking of all he also disturbed two bodies while searching for items to steal. The families have described their utter devastation at learning about the callous and appalling desecration.
Appealing in Exeter Crown Court, Griffin, a drug user with more than 200 previous crimes to his name, said he was sorry and embarrassed by his actions.
The judge sentencing him to two years and seven months in jail said: “Over the years you have attempted to burgle and have burgled 60 premises or homes to steal from the living. Here you have sought to steal from the deceased. There was total indifference and disregard to the hurt, pain and distress that would inevitably cause to loved ones.”
Griffin admitted three burglaries all committed in the early hours of March 13. Prosecutor Ms Althea Brooks said CCTV first showed him at about 3am standing outside the Lemon Next To The Pie cafe in Holland Street.
He used a hammer to smash his way in through a window and could be seen dragging out the till containing £240 in cash. He also took a mug containing tips but cut his hands on the broken glass.
He then moved on to the undertakers in nearby Boutport Street. After breaking in via a next door shop he left the premises ‘in a serious state of disarray’, said the prosecutor.
He rifled through cupboards and drawers, removed ashes from boxes and left his bloody hand prints on boxes as he tore off crematorium certificates. He emptied further tubs containing ashes and ransacked the coffin workshop leaving tools on the floor.
Ms Brooks said bags of clothing for the deceased were emptied and a sealed letter intended for a coffin ripped open and left ‘with blood marks found on the remainder of the letter’.
I have moved onto the fridge and opened two bags containing bodies. When staff arrived the next day they discovered they had been clearly moved as he rummaged for items to steal. Griffin had also searched the Mercedes hear but had not damaged it.
The third burglary happened at a nearby Sophisticuts hair salon. Griffin stole two pairs of clippers worth £50 each, an Alexa speaker and hair straighteners worth £100. He also helped himself to money from two charity boxes.
Griffin, who lived in supported accommodation in St George’s Road, was easily traced via a bloody trail and discarded stolen items leading through Hilton Park, Pilton car park and a pair of stolen beard trimmers under his bath.
The owner of the cafe said she no longer kept cash on the premises. She had also decided to sell the business she had spent years building due to the anxiety and breakdown in trust caused by the break-in.
Three statements were also read on behalf of the families who had relatives in Padfields. Each said their grieving and trauma of loss had been made much worse by knowing what Griffin had done.
One said her mother was in her 90s and had served her country in the war.
“It was a place she should have been safe and at peace and rest,” she said.
“When we were informed someone had broken in and disturbed mum I was horrified and the whole family was devastated. Our loved one was violated in such a way. We are horrified that someone could have done something like this and find it so very shocking.”
Another said his ‘gentleman’ 90-year-old uncle had been lying in rest in his coffin while Griffin rummaged around nearby.
A third said Griffin searched her mum for jewellery.
“Her peaceful sanctity was violated by this vile individual who disturbed my mother at her time of rest,” they said “He has prolonged the grief and sadness at my mother’s passing. The indescribable base actions of this individual have cast a shadow on the memory of our dear mum.”
The burglaries put Griffin in breach of a 16-week suspended sentence imposed in August last year, for a non-dwelling burglary.
Ms Evie Dean, defending, said he wanted the chance to keep working with probation but realized he might go to prison. He came from a troubled background in care and his ex had died of a drug overdose. He stole to feed his drug addiction but was now a grandfather and sorry for what he had done.
Judge Paul Cook said: “It is the impact you had on various victims along with the way that is most relevant to sentence.”
He said Griffin had robbed his victims of their chance to grieve and had “magnified the trauma for them many times over.”