Detective Sergeant Craig Strohfeldt addressed media on Thursday about Harts Family Funerals coffin-swapping allegations.
Detective Sergeant Craig Strohfeldt addressed media on Thursday about Harts Family Funerals coffin-swapping allegations. Steph Allen

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

A DIRECTOR of a funeral business could face a stint in jail or a fine if found guilty of switching a dead body into a different coffin before cremation, police say.

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.

READ: Police investigating shocking Rockhampton 'coffin switch' claim.

 

DEVASTATED: L-R Niece Kerry Rothery and son Mick Valigura with a framed photo of Janice Valigura nee Rothery who was allegedly placed in a pine coffin by a funeral director after the family had purchased an expensive casket.
DEVASTATED: L-R Niece Kerry Rothery and son Mick Valigura with a framed photo of Janice Valigura nee Rothery who was allegedly placed in a pine coffin by a funeral director after the family had purchased an expensive casket. Chris Ison ROK100118cfuneral2

 

The family of Janice Cecilia Valigura made a complaint to police on Monday that her body was switched from a $1700 coffin to a $70 pine box shortly after her funeral.

The family claims Hart Family Funerals has since told them this was "commonplace". The owner of the funeral service, Tony Hart, yesterday refused to comment to media.

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

 

The pine box that Jane Valigura was allegedly switched into from her expensive casket.
The pine box that Jane Valigura was allegedly switched into from her expensive casket. Kerry Rothery

"It's quite unusual," Det Sgt Strohfeldt said.

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

 

Janice Valigura nee Rothery
Janice Valigura nee Rothery

"It a serious matter and we're putting a lot of resources into the investigation."

He said investigations could take weeks.

The original casket Mrs Valigura was meant to be cremated in that cost the Rothery family $1700.
The original casket Mrs Valigura was meant to be cremated in that cost the Rothery family $1700. Kerry Rothery

*After an investigation, police cleared Mr Hart and Harts Family Funerals of legal wrongdoing and said they would not be laying charges.


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