Woman takes sister to court after she refuses to tell her where she buried their deceased father
Sally Ruhl, 57, had her father Kenneth Ruhl buried in the garden of his home but reportedly refused to tell her sister Helen exactly where he was buried.
A court heard that a grieving daughter who gave her father a DIY burial in their back garden refused to tell her sister where his body is buried.
After Kenneth Ruhl died at the age of 80 in July last year, he was buried in the garden of the £400,000 ($500,000) home that 57-year-old Sally Ruhl shared with him.
While Sally told her 53-year-old sister Helen that their father was "in the garden" of the residence in West Runton, Norfolk, she refused to specify exactly where his grave was located in the plot, which spans a third of an acre, for almost nine months.
That said, Helen ended up taking her sister to court over holding back the information. She runs a cake shop in Cromer, Norfolk, Daily Mail reports.
After the death of their mother Margaret in April last year, Sally arranged for a DIY burial for her father as she didn't feel like she could "face another funeral," the High Court in London heard. She claimed at the time it was only meant to be temporary. However, she refused to let a digger in after finally agreeing to an exhumation.
Instead, she insisted that her son dig her father up again by hand before he was reburied next to his wife. Helen then moved the courts to have Sally removed as an executor of their father's will. Helen Ruhl's barrister James Poole said: "There is no dispute that their relationship deteriorated quickly after their father's death and, at present, their relationship is extremely poor."
Describing Sally's behavior as "controlling and obstructive," he continued: "Helen sometimes feels unable to stand up to her sister. Sally has acted unilaterally and without reference to Helen, through acts such as burying her father on the property. Helen was told about it, but nine months passed before she even told her where he was buried, other than in the garden."
Speaking to Judge Paul Teverson, Sally said that Helen was well aware their father had been laid to rest in his own backyard. "She knew dad was in the garden...I asked her to come over and I would show her where he was, but I couldn't force her to come. This idea of me trying to hide him is just not the case," she told the hearing.
Sally and her son, Radleigh, were living with Ruhl when he died, Judge Teverson said as he ruled on the dispute. "Sally and her son took it upon themselves to arrange for Mr. Ruhl to be buried in the garden of his property, where they were living," he said.
"The explanation given for this garden burial was that Sally was very shocked by the circumstances of her father's death."
After their mother died in April last year, Sally said she could "could not face another funeral" so soon. The judge ruled that the garden burial was carried out with "due dignity" despite being intended only as a "temporary measure." He added: "For many months, Sally refused to tell her sister where her father was buried in the garden. Although Sally says she did invite Helen to come to the house to see where he was buried."
Sally suggested her son might do some of the burial work despite Helen's desire to involve a funeral director. "I was talking to the funeral director, and I said that I could ask my son if he could dig down to a foot above the coffin rather than getting a digger on site," said Sally.
"There was nothing sinister about it, but Helen said she wanted to pay the full price. My son had dug the grave in the first place."
The house's sale was deadlocked after Helen and Sally were left equal shares but the latter was still living there with her son. That said, Judge Teverson appointed two lawyers after ruling that neither sister should be an executor to the will. Nonetheless, he ordered Sally to pay over £35,000 ($44,000) towards Helen's legal expenses.