Heartbroken Edinburgh mum pleads for return of son's remains after 40 year battle

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Ms Reid had promised Gary’s father and aunt that their ashes would be laid to rest alongside Gary when she finally received the remains

An Edinburgh mother is pleading for her son’s remains to be returned to her so that she can lay her family to rest together after 40 years battling with authorities.

Lydia Reid, 71, from Clermiston, wants Police Scotland and prosecutors at the Crown Office to have the scientific ‘blocks and slides’ from her son Gary Paton’s post mortem handed over.

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Ms Reid had promised Gary’s father, Bruce Paton, and aunt Gina Birthnel, that their ashes would be laid to rest alongside Gary when she finally received the remains.

Lydia Reid, 71, from Clermiston, wants Police Scotland and prosecutors at the Crown Office to have the scientific ‘blocks and slides’ from her son Gary Paton’s post mortem handed overLydia Reid, 71, from Clermiston, wants Police Scotland and prosecutors at the Crown Office to have the scientific ‘blocks and slides’ from her son Gary Paton’s post mortem handed over
Lydia Reid, 71, from Clermiston, wants Police Scotland and prosecutors at the Crown Office to have the scientific ‘blocks and slides’ from her son Gary Paton’s post mortem handed over

But the Crown Office and Police Scotland have each delayed the return of the remains – citing an ongoing investigation.

Gary’s mother believes that they are withholding the samples taken by a pathologist because of her work in helping expose a previous child remains scandal and acting as a gatekeeper for parents impacted by these issues.

She states that even if her son’s remains were incinerated then she has a right to know.

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Gary was just seven days old when he died at Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children in 1975.

Ms Reid has campaigned tirelessly since then to try to get the relevant authorities to admit that her son was not buried in the grave they claimed he was at Saughton cemetery.

Forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black exhumed Gary’s coffin in 2017 and she later concluded that it was buried without human remains.

A nameplate that had spelled Gary’s name wrongly, a shawl, a hat, a cross and a name tag were found in the grave – but there were no skeletal remains and no tell-tale signs of a body.

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Prof Black told the BBC in 2017 that: “Ultimately there is only one possible logical explanation and that is that the body was not put in that coffin.”

Authorities have since claimed to have found stitches, clothing and a hair that belonged to Gary - but Ms Reid does not believe that these items belong to her son.

And she has vowed to prove it by testing the DNA on the items through an independent body that would guarantee the return of the remains -–something that she says is not guaranteed if Police Scotland use their DNA testing labs.

Ms Reid said: “I am Catholic, so just want them to finally let me bury my little boy. It is all I want and it is Gary’s right to have a burial. He did not have his burial in 1975 and I do not know if I will die tomorrow so I want my son and family buried together as soon as possible. This is ripping my family apart, when you lose a child it feels like your heart is ripped out your chest, and it never goes back in. But to not be able to give him a proper burial after this entire debacle, a little boy one week old when he died, is a disgrace.”

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“I feel for my other son as now he cannot have a final farewell for his father, his aunt or his brother. All of this because they do not want to admit that my son was not in that grave.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: We have a dedicated enquiry team who have been investigating this matter since it was reported to us and we continue to undertake a number of lines of enquiry to fully understand the circumstances.. to seek answers for the family.”

A Crown Office spokesperson said it would “not be appropriate to comment at this time”.

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