Grave concerns: Outrage over ‘undignified’ burial
A GRIEVING man visiting his brother's gravesite said he and his wife felt an "indescribable" anger when, "in the blink of an eye", a tip truck dumped a mounded load of soil directly onto a casket.
Alan and Brigitte McCleary had no doubt the impact would have split the coffin open, and feared others, including Mr McCleary's brother, had not been buried with respect at Witta Cemetery.
Mr McCleary said he had since spent days calling the Sunshine Coast Council, councillors and the funeral director to fight for answers, and dignity for the deceased.
Mr McCleary feared his late brother Trevor McCleary, of Maleny, received the same treatment when buried at the cemetery in February last year.
He said a one-foot depression had formed atop the gravesite soon after, but was since "tidied up".
Mr McCleary said he was deeply disturbed by what he saw on Wednesday, but his concerns were met with defensiveness and "buck passing".
"Anger, emotion, everything went through my head," Mr McCleary recalled of the Wednesday incident.
"We had my brother dressed beautifully in a jacket, if that happened, his casket would have been split open.
"These funeral undertakers say 'buried with dignity', there was no dignity in that."
The Irish-born Australian said Trevor had been his only family in Australia, and in his final months the pair grew closer than ever.
"He was a proud Australian citizen, loved Maleny, loved Australia, was very outgoing, and it really broke our hearts because he was my only brother," Mr McCleary said.
Sunshine Coast Council is responsible for 18 cemeteries.
A council spokeswoman told the Daily a review of the burial procedure found "due care was taken to ensure the backfilling method did not jeopardise the care for the deceased or their coffin or casket".
"Our heartfelt sympathies go out to this gentleman," she said, though Mr McCleary said no such sympathies were given direct to him.
"Council can assure our community our council officers approach every interment with sensitivity and compassion."
She said a staff member from council's cemetery service spoke with Mr McCleary on Thursday, and wished to meet with him this week to discuss the matter further.
They said council's procedure for filling graves was consistent with the management approach applied across many cemeteries and local government areas.
In response to the depression atop Trevor McCleary's grave, the spokeswoman said gravesites could often take many months to settle due to air pockets and gaps in the soil, but staff regularly inspected and refilled them.