Scottish Daily Mail

Black Watch widow wins right to bury husband... three years af ter he died

- By Jamie Beatson

THE wife of a tragic Black Watch soldier yesterday won the right to bury him after he had lain in a morgue for three years during a bitter legal battle between her and his mother.

Private Mark Connolly, 24, died after fellow soldier Paul McKay, 27, knocked him to the ground with a single punch at a pub in Germany where they were stationed.

Private McKay was later cleared of manslaught­er after a court martial heard that he acted in self-defence.

But three years on Private Connolly’s body remains in a morgue in London following a dispute between his wife Stacy and his mother Linda McComiskie over where he should be buried. Now he will be laid to rest in Forfar, Angus, after Mrs Connolly won a lengthy court case against Miss McComiskie.

During a three-day civil proof at Forfar Sheriff Court, 50-year- old Miss McComiskie claimed Mrs Connolly had been jealous of her close relationsh­ip with her son.

She said that when Private Connolly had been injured during a tour of Afghanista­n, his wife had not informed her. She claimed that also, following his death, his wife and her family had tried to ‘dictate’ his funeral arrangemen­ts.

According to Miss McComiskie, Private Connolly had told his grandmothe­r that he wanted to be buried beside his grandfathe­r in Fife. But Mrs Connolly said that he wanted to be buried alongside her when she eventually passes away, and that she intends to be laid to rest Forfar, where she now plans a ‘colourful’ funeral for her husband.

The 29-year-old widow said: ‘I’m

‘A distinct lack of compassion’

here to carry out my husband’s wishes. We’re talking about who has the right to bury him and who decides where a nd how it happens.’

Miss McComiskie said: ‘There was always a strange distance between me and Stacy.

‘When Mark was injured in Afghanista­n, he was flown to Sellyoak in Birmingham f or treatment. I thought Stacy would have phoned to tell me about that – but I got it from a visiting Army officer instead.

‘A couple of weeks later, my partner called up Stacy, and her mum said there were funeral arrangemen­ts. She basically dictated to us that you will wear colourful clothes and not black, and that he’d be buried in Forfar. I said they will not tell me what to wear to my own son’s funeral.’

Miss McComiskie said she and her daughter-in-law eventually met to discuss arrangemen­ts: ‘She was crying, and begging me – I did feel bad. But I said it wasn’t what Mark wanted.

‘I said: “They can have a service in Forfar, but he has to come back to Fife to be buried with his grandfathe­r”. All his family are there – he doesn’t have a family in Forfar.’

In a written judgment, Sheriff Valerie Johnston s ai d Miss McComiskie had shown ‘ l i ttle regard for the body of her son languishin­g in storage in London for over three years’.

The sheriff added: ‘She has been blinded by her own desire to win the argument. She showed a lack of insight into the situation of a young, recently-widowed woman, and a distinct lack of compassion.

‘She thought only of herself and how she had been overlooked.’

Sheriff Johnston said Private Conolly had witnessed ‘the obliterati­on of a fellow serviceman in an explosion’, scarring him mentally: ‘His wife had been at his side throughout his recovery. In the intimacy of that relationsh­ip, a conversati­on took place about the couple’s wishes should the unthinkabl­e occur.

‘There is no evidence that her desire to comply with those wishes is motivated by any grudge against the defender or her family.’

Mrs Connolly is understood to be on holiday abroad. A family friend said: ‘There are no winners here. She just wants Mark to be laid to rest in peace, as he should have been three years ago.’

 ??  ?? Lovers: Stacy and Mark Connolly
Lovers: Stacy and Mark Connolly
 ??  ?? Loser: Linda McComiskie
Loser: Linda McComiskie

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