Daughter who buried father in illegal woodland pagan funeral avoids jail

Eirys Brett, 31, and her partner Mark Watson, 46, have avoided jail after burying her father in an illegal ceremony. (Wales News Service)
Eirys Brett, 31, and her partner Mark Watson, 46, have avoided jail after burying her father in an illegal ceremony. (Wales News Service)

A daughter who buried her father in an illegal woodland pagan funeral and failed to register his death has avoided jail.

Eirys Brett, 31, and her partner Mark Watson, 46, buried Donald Brett in a secret countryside grave after he died from natural causes.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard that frail Mr Brett made last requests that he wanted to be buried in woods in a medieval non-Christian style near his farmhouse home, in Aberedw, near Builth Wells.

Mr Brett was believed to be 78 or recently turned 79 at the time of his death.

He was last seen alive in June 2019, although his body was not discovered for two years.

Brett and Watson were arrested after authorities grew suspicious about Mr Brett's whereabouts. The pair told officers where they had buried him, and said he had died from natural causes.

When he was exhumed, the body was wrapped in a hessian cotton blanket with twine wrapped in a cross pattern in a "medieval burial" pattern.

A number of items had been buried with the body including artistic supplies, poems and flowers.

Prosecutor Tom Scapens said Mr Brett's cause of death was identified as a lung condition but he also suffered from prostate cancer.

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A general view of Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court.
The couple avoided jail during a hearing at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court. (PA)

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He added that Mr Brett was a "non-conformist person in his approach to life" who "lived in a unique way."

Scapens added: "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."

Nicholas Gedge, for Brett, 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."

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Donald Brett wishes to be buried near his home in Aberedw, near Builth Wells (not pictured). (Google)
Donald Brett wishes to be buried near his home in Aberedw, near Builth Wells (not pictured). (Google)

“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.”

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.