UK: Mother discovers her son's coffin is empty - 42 years later

UK mother persuades professor to test remains for DNA, discovers his coffin is empty.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Flash 90

A mother who campaigned to exhume her baby's coffin for over 40 years was devastated to discover the coffin empty.

Lydia Reid, 68, said she knew at the funeral that her son's coffin was empty.

Her son, Gary Robert Paton, died in Edinburgh in July 1975. He was a week old at the time of his death.

Professor Dame Susan Black agreed to carry out DNA tests on Gary's remains, but when the two went to open the coffin, there was only a cross, a hat, a nameplate, and a shawl.

Speaking to BBC, Reid said, "The coffin was light. I knew the weight of a baby. My son was not there. Again, nobody believed me."

"I wanted to be wrong.... But the minute Sue lifted the shawl out of the ground, I knew there was nothing in it. Nothing. My heart hit my feet. I didn’t know what to say."

"Even if he is lying in a jar in a hospital somewhere, I want to know. If it is possible to get my son back, I want to."

Scotland's National Health Service (NHS) in 2001 admitted to widespread organ retention between the years 1970-2000. During those years, approximately 6,000 organs and tissues - many of them from children - were kept by Scottish hospitals.

Reid suspected her son's remains were among them, and therefore continued fighting for decades after his death. She also said that after her son died, she requested to see him again - but was shown the body of a different baby.

According to Black, "There is only one possible logical explanation and that is that the body was not put in that coffin... You never get that level of preservation of coffin and not have a body be preserved... It was not there and I have never seen that before."

NHS Lothian Deputy Chief Executive Jim Crombie said the matter "is now being looked into" and insisted he could not comment further.

"Our condolences are with the family of Gary Paton," he added.