18 months prison for theft of prepaid funeral funds

A grieving widow who spent weeks attempting to track down the ashes of her husband has shared her story following the conviction of a North-West Coast funeral director. 

In 2014 Betty Galloway prepaid Kentish Funerals for cremations for herself and her husband Charles.

She is named on a list of about 30 victims who will receive financial compensation from Kentish Funerals funeral director Scott Allan Dickey.

On Tuesday Magistrate Duncan Fairley found Dickey stole more than $126,000, primarily in prepaid funeral funds he received after taking over Kentish Funerals in 2011. 

He sentenced Dickey to 18 months in prison for more than 30 counts of theft and 8 counts of forgery and uttering.

In a written statement Mrs Galloway said in January 2016 Dickey had told her that her husband would be cremated using funds she paid to Devonport-based Kentish Funerals. 

She said by late February she had not received her husband’s ashes.

“I said I was trusting [Dickey] to carry this out with respect and dignity. He said he would let me know when to collect Charles' ashes,” Mrs Galloway said. 

"In the following weeks Scott Dickey never got in touch, even after numerous phone calls, messages left on his answering machine and visits to his place of business enquiring about a death certificate and ashes." 

After Mrs Galloway’s daughter threatened police intervention, a cremation was undertaken. 

In April 2016, Mrs Galloway attempted to transfer her remaining prepaid funds and discovered they were no longer there, and her signature had been forged on a relevant document. 

Mr Fairley said Dickey’s level of forgery had required a level of sophistication.

He accepted a medical report indicating Dickey had used deception to cope with existing financial problems. 

“I must accept that you inherited a business that was in financial stress,” Mr Fairley said.

“You knew what you were doing was wrong.” 

Dickey was sentenced to pay compensation orders equating to more than $120,000 and must pay a fine of $3,000 for three counts breach the burial and cremation Act. 

He has been sentenced to 18 months in prison, backdated to June 9, 2017.

He will be eligible for parole in March, 2018.