Body in freezer explained’

PUBLISHED: 12:16 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 17:22 25 August 2010

Exclusive Times interview A PENSIONER who kept her mother s corpse in a chest freezer for nearly 29 years told the Times she did so out of absolute ignorance .

Exclusive Times interview

A PENSIONER who kept her mother's corpse in a chest freezer for nearly 29 years told the Times she did so "out of absolute ignorance".

Gulbai Freedoon Murzdan died on December 30, 1980, but her two daughters kept her body in a chest freezer at their home in Park Mead, Sidcup, from the day she died, fearing that she was an illegal immigrant.

Croydon Coroner's Court heard on Tuesday that the daughters thought their mother's assumed illegal status would have repercussions on them, especially the eldest, Purvis Murzdan, who had just qualified as a doctor when her mother died.

But even after they discovered their mother was not an illegal immigrant they were still too scared to tell the police.

Purvis, who became a GP in Slade Green, died last June and her sister Daulat Irani, 84, did not attend the inquest but told the Times: "It was absolute ignorance.

"We didn't know the law for Commonwealth citizens."

She added: "I had a good relationship with my mother.

"We didn't know what the law would make of it. We were just afraid."

When asked why she didn't reveal the secret when she found out her mother was not an illegal immigrant, she said: "I didn't want to. My sister was practicing.

"And when she retired she was old and in a care home so I didn't want to disturb her so when she died I thought this is the time to reveal."

Speaking about being on her own to face the consequences, she said: "It doesn't matter. I have had a very happy life with my sister. I cannot complain.

"I don't care what happens to me."

Ms Irani came over to England from India in 1955 and worked as a seamstress on Oxford Street in the West End, whilst living in Notting Hill.

She said: "I am the last one. I don't have any family left in England or India. No cousins. Nothing. There is no one left.

"My mother liked it here. My father died in Bombai in 1953. My mother and I were left so I couldn't leave her in India. She was a housewife and had eight children.

"Father was a trader who had a provincial shop and used to trade goods with England. I grew up eating English biscuits."

Since her story made headlines across the world in May, she said: "Everyone has been nice. All my neighbours are very good.

"The policewoman said that there was very critical news about me."

Bringing out a large pile of black and white photographers, taken of the family, both in India and England, she said: "Would you call this a bad relationship?"

Her mother was born 108 years ago in India on December 7, 1901, and her death was only declared in May this year, when Ms Irani went to a solicitor to make a will and told them about her secret.

She was questioned under caution but police decided not to press charges.

Mrs Murzdan has now been cremated at Eltham crematorium and her ashes were scattered in the back garden alongside her sister and her sister's partner's.

Ms Irani said: "I have told my neighbours that if anything happens to me, I want my ashes scattered there too."

Coroner Dr Roy Palmer recorded a verdict of death by natural causes. When conducting the post mortem Forensic Consultant Pathologist Dr Rob Chapman found no signs of poison, drugs or assault.

Cause of death was coronary heart disease with the contributory factor of emphysema.

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