Cathy Gates, a 38-year old part-time housewife from Barnstaple called in Devon and Cornwall Constabulary after her husband Norman brought his dead mother home for Christmas, for the second consecutive year.
Norman, a regional manager with Premier Inn, first exhumed his mother, who died in November 2011, last December. A neighbour witnessed Mr Gates carrying his mother’s shriveled cadaver and six cans of Febreze up to his flat and enquired: “Is that your late mother you’re carrying upstairs?” Mr Gates simply responded by rolling his eyes and sighing, “Yes, and I know what you’re going to say and you’re right, technically we should be going to hers this year.”
The neighbour immediately called Mrs Gates, who was doing some last minute shopping, and she hurried home to discover her deceased mother-in-law propped up at the dinner table wearing a paper hat and holding a party blowout.
“Surprise!” shouted her husband as their decaying relative tipped forward onto her plate.
Half an hour later, Mr Gates was helped from the property by police officers and a forensic psychiatrist. When asked how upset his wife must have been to come home and find his mother in the house, Mr Gates responded that this was typical, and that the two women had never really got on: “You would think, considering everything mother’s been through this year, that she could cut her some slack,” Mr Gates said in his statement.
Six months later he was given a clean bill of health and returned home. However, when his wife returned on Friday evening she found her mother-in-law’s body sitting in an armchair clutching a copy of the Radio Times and box of Cadbury Roses in her bony fingers.
She angrily confronted her husband, who replied in a hushed voice, “I know, and all she’s left us are the Tangy Orange Crèmes.”
Mr Gates’ psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Perkins believes that in time his patient will come to terms with his loss: “Norman’s inability to deal with his mother’s death seems particularly acute around the holidays. The rest of the year he’s a shy, mild-mannered man, but then it gets to the week before Christmas and he’s out with the shovel.”
Speaking from the psychiatric ward where he is spending another festive season, Mr Gates said he was reluctant to discuss what had been “a traumatic and upsetting period of my life,” adding, “Although mother says she wouldn’t mind a quick word.”