Mount Vernon cemetery worker jailed over burial fraud
The former superintendent of an Edinburgh cemetery has been jailed for 16 months after he pleaded guilty to forging burial deeds and misselling burial plots to grieving families.
William Henderson, 46, earlier admitted one count of fraud covering 13 individual cases across a nine-year period from 2006 to 2015 in relation to his employment at Mount Vernon cemetery.
In addition to the creation of false burial deeds, Henderson also oversaw the ‘overburial’ of two individuals where families were sold plots believing these to be fresh graves.
However, these in fact were unmarked graves that were already occupied.
In total, Henderson was able to obtain thousands of pounds in profit.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Grainger, who led the police investigation, said: “William Henderson successfully obtained large sums of money from people mourning the death of loved ones and looking to have them buried within Mount Vernon Cemetery.
“At no point during our inquiries did Henderson show any remorse for his actions, or the impact his deception will have had on his victims.
“We took a sensitive and professional approach when interviewing those affected and are extremely grateful to everyone who assisted with our inquiries, particularly when they had to relive some painful memories in the process.
“I would again like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to all the families who supported our investigation, as well as the staff at the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, who worked really hard to help with our inquiries.
“It is my hope that this sentence now brings a sense of closure around this matter.”
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, which manages Mount Vernon, said: “Willie Henderson’s criminal activities were a betrayal of the trust put in him by the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh but also, and more disturbingly, a betrayal of the trust put in him by families who were grieving and vulnerable – that’s why his crimes and so reprehensible and so regrettable.
“The Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh will continue to endeavour to provide both pastoral and practical support to those affected by Henderson’s crimes.
“We have also put in place systems to ensure that such instances of fraud cannot happen again.
“We welcome today’s court order that Henderson pay back the money he defrauded from the Archdiocese and would like to thank both Police Scotland and the Crown Office for bringing this very regrettable case to the legal conclusion it has reached today.”