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A daughter kept her father’s dead body propped up in his favorite chair for days before secretly performing an illegal “Stone Age” funeral for him after he turned down modern medical help, an inquest has heard.
Eirys Brett, 32, followed in the footsteps of father Donald, 78, to live a ‘particularly alternative’ off-grid lifestyle – refusing NHS care when he fell ill, suggesting holistic treatments instead.
The inquest learned that Mr Brett died and was left for several days in his favorite chair next to a wood-burning stove while his daughter and her partner dug a 6-foot makeshift forest grave.
He was buried in a red and turquoise bobble hat, a red t-shirt and harlequin chef’s trousers. His body was wrapped in a burlap cotton blanket with twine wrapped in a cross pattern with brushes, flowers and a poem in the grave.
Detective Det Con Alex Stuart said, “They had a ritual. It wasn’t thrown in, it was strategically placed, it was like a Stone Age or Bronze Age burial, then they covered the hole.’
Eirys Brett, 31, pictured, performed the secret funeral in the countryside with her partner Mark Watson, 46, but broke the law for not legally registering her father Donald’s death
The inquest heard in the weeks before his death sent the frail Mr Brett a message to his daughter to say: ‘Maybe I should get NHS treatment’ when he developed a stomach ache at home.
Eirys and her partner Mark Watson, 47, advised against seeing a doctor and told him to take alternative medicines.
He came to stay with them so they could help him, but he became “quite unwell” and died a short time later.
The investigation revealed that Mr Brett wanted to be buried at his home – so the couple placed his body in their red Opel Corsa to drive to his cottage in June 2019.
DC Stuart said they had put Mr Brett in his favorite chair before digging his grave 100 yards from the house where he had lived for over 25 years in Aberedw, near Builth Wells, Powys.
He said: ‘They started digging around a six-foot-long cemetery. It wasn’t particularly wide. They dug it out for several days while Mr. Brett was at his house.’
The inquest heard that Mr Brett’s landlord raised the alarm after he was not seen for weeks at his secluded stone cottage in Aberedw, near Builth Wells, Powys.
Eirys and Mark, of St Harmon, near Rhayader, Powys, were given four months suspended sentences at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court, pictured
A search was launched before Eirys and Mr Watson were stopped by police at a stopover in the car they had used to transport Mr Brett’s body.
The couple were questioned by police in August 2019 before admitting they performed an illegal funeral without registering the death.
DC Stuart said, “They both pointed to about the same place where he was buried.
“It was a full and candid confession from the start. They both conceded wholeheartedly that he was buried illegally.’
The inquest revealed that phone records showed that Mr Brett relied on his daughter for treatment advice when he became unwell.
Eirys told police she believed her father was suffering from prostate cancer and had advised him to undergo holistic treatments.
But the inquest learned that Mr Brett, who led a “particularly alternative” lifestyle, had the capacity to make decisions and was not coerced.
Friends told police Mr Brett would only seek medical treatment if “absolutely necessary” in his cottage without electricity.
His ex-partner Alison Walker said he was “anti-establishment” and told police her daughter Eirys shared his view.
Ms Walker said she last saw her ex alive in June 2019 when he told her, “Aren’t I lucky enough to have our daughter looking after me?”
The inquest in Pontypridd, South Wales, learned that Mr Brett died that month – but his body was not discovered until two months later.
The inquiry found that Mr Brett wanted to be buried at his home – so the couple put his body in their red Vauxhall Corsa to be driven to his cottage in June 2019 (Pontypridd Coroner’s Court pictured)
Eirys and Mr. Watson, of St. Harmon, near Rhayader, Powys, was charged by police and later pleaded guilty to preventing a lawful and decent burial.
They were given four months’ suspended sentences at Merthyr Crown Court in July this year.
Judge Recorder Gregg Bull QC told them: ‘You took great care in burying him. This wasn’t a rushed funeral in the middle of the night somehow.
“You chose to give him his last rites in what can best be described as a kind of pagan funeral.
“Everyone is entitled to their faith and does not comment on yours. But you should have handled it differently.’
The inquest on Wednesday heard that a post-mortem examination revealed the cause of death as “undetermined,” but there was no evidence of anything other than natural death.
Assistant coroner Patricia Morgan made an open conclusion.
She said, “There is no indication that his death was suspicious.”