Daughter spared jail for father's illegal Pagan-style burial

Daughter who carried out father’s wishes by giving him an illegal Pagan-style burial in woodland avoids jail

  • Eirys Brett, 31, buried father Donald with her partner Mark Watson, 46
  • Donald requested medieval non-Christian burial in woodland near his home
  • Eirys and her partner broke law as she failed to legally register father’s death
  • Judge handed Eirys and Mark four-month suspended sentences  

A daughter who carried out her father’s wishes by giving him an illegal Pagan-style burial in woodland has been spared jail.

Eirys Brett, 31, carried out the secret countryside burial with her partner Mark Watson, 46, but broke the law as she failed to legally register her father Donald’s death.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard that Mr Brett had requested to be buried in woodland near his farmhouse home, in a medieval non-Christian style. 

His daughter and partner had carried out his wishes in a ‘sense of love and loyalty’, exhuming his body in a hessian cotton blanket with twine wrapped in a cross pattern in a ‘medieval burial’ pattern.

Mr Brett was last seen alive in June 2019 but his body was not found until more than two years later. Mr Brett was believed to be 78 or recently turned 79 when he died. 

Eirys and Mark were arrested and said that Mr Brett had died from natural causes- they also told officers where they had buried him.

Eirys Brett, 31, pictured, carried out the secret countryside burial along with her partner Mark Watson, 46, but broke the law as she failed to legally register her father Donald’s death

Officers discovered that a number of items were buried with the body including artistic supplies, poems and flowers. 

Prosecutor Tom Scapens said that Mr Brett’s cause of death was a lung condition but that he had also suffered from prostate cancer. 

Mr Scapens said: ‘Donald Brett was revealed to be a non-conformist person in his approach to life. He lived in a unique way.

‘He would not seek medical attention or advice unless it was completely unavoidable and if he had to seek treatment, he would only allow the minimal intervention. This is confirmed by medical notes and statements throughout the investigation.

‘Donald Brett was a strong character and evidence has shown that he was firm in expressing his wishes to the defendants about how it was he wanted to die and how he wished to be buried.

‘The defendants carried out those wishes both in a sense of love and loyalty to Donald Brett but also because his wishes accorded with their own views about a person should live and receive medical attention.

‘They were extremely misguided, but it was not malicious.’

Defending, Nicholas Gedge said:  ‘It is clear this was something that happened out of something of loyalty and love. It was misguided but wasn’t borne out of anything other than love and loyalty. She is of good character.’

‘In the days leading up to his death Donald Brett was undoubtedly in extreme ill health and in excruciating pain. They didn’t override his wishes and take him to hospital when they should have done but, again, they did not do this with malicious intent rather because they had misguided and grave views and a loyalty to Mr Brett.’

Eirys and Mark, of St Harmon, near Rhayader, Powys, were handed four-month suspended sentences at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court, pictured 

Judge, recorder Gregg Bull QC told them: ‘You took every loving care in burying him. This was not a rushed burial in the dead of night in some underhand way. The way in which he was buried showed that you loved him, and I take that into account.

‘It seems to me that I will have to pass a sentence of imprisonment because the public requires that the dead are dealt with in a decent way.’

‘You are a loving couple who were faced with the death of Miss Brett’s father from natural causes. By reason of your respective lifestyles, it was hoped that he could be buried with an unconventional method.

‘You chose to give him his last rites in what can be best described as some sort of pagan funeral.

‘Everybody’s entitled to their beliefs and make no comment about yours. But you should have gone about it in a different way.

‘You could have achieved the same objective by following the law and that is not simply where you think or where he thinks is appropriate but where you are permitted to bury him and to register the death – those were the two things you failed to do.’

The couple, of St Harmon, near Rhayader, Powys, were handed four-month suspended sentences.

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