Couple held in Edinburgh mortuary for 15 years finally laid to rest

Eugenios and Hilda Marcel were laid to rest on Thursday.
Eugenios and Hilda Marcel were laid to rest on Thursday.

The bodies of couple who were held in Edinburgh’s mortuary for 15 years have finally been laid to rest after a funeral.

Hilda Marcel died on February 10, 1987, aged 68 while Eugenois died on August 31, 1994, aged 91.

In May 2002, police investigating another matter discovered the couple had not been buried but were stored in their son Melvyn’s premises at Gilmour Place.

Prosecutors were told of the discovery, but no proceedings were brought and the procurator fiscal said the bodies could be released for burial or cremation.

The embalmed bodies were moved to a city mortuary, where they were stored until a lengthy court battle rejected their Melvyn Marcel’s appeal to keep the bodies at his property.

In February, a court ruled the council had a “statutory duty” to dispose of the remains.

Edinburgh City Council confirmed the couple had been buried at a funeral at Craigmillar Castle Park Cemetery on Thursday.

She said: “A funeral was held today for Mr and Mrs Marcel.”

Earlier this year, Melvyn Marcel lost his battle to have the UK’s highest court hear the case.

Lord Mulholland had granted Edinburgh City Council the authority to bury the couple but their son appealed against the decision before it was rejected in July.

Mr Marcel then asked judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to have the case heard by the UK Supreme Court in London, but permission was refused by judges.

It is understood that one of the couple’s two sons – a registered undertaker who is believed to have kept the bodies of his parents in the shop in Gilmore Place because he could not bear to let them go – had hoped to convert his home in the Capital into a private mausoleum to store their bodies. The complex nature of that application was at the root of the legal action with the council which prevented the bodies from being interred.

Mr Marcel died of prostate cancer in 1994 at the age of 91. Hilda had died seven years earlier in 1987, after suffering lung failure.

When they were discovered, the father had already been dead for eight years and the mother for 15 years.

The two bodies – perfectly embalmed and lying in coffins – were discovered in 2002 by officers investigating another matter. The couple had been kept at the council’s Cowgate morgue ever since.

Both deaths had been registered under law, however, and death certificates issued.

After an initial police investigation into the find, no charges were brought.

Repeated efforts had been made by council officials and the couple’s remaining family but a resolution could not be met.

newsen@edinburghnews.com