Ryan John Franklin was killed by his father in May 2002, aged just 2 years 3 months, but I was not allowed to bury him until November 2003. Ryan's father's defence team said they needed 'more time' to conduct medical tests. They carried out no such medical tests. Ryan's father was convicted of the killing and received a custodial sentence. The forensic tests carried out by the police took several months and during this time we were not told of the fatal blows to the back of the head which had caused his death. His killer had claimed that Ryan had fallen down the stairs, and we assumed that the injury to his forehead was the one that was the cause of his death. Not so. We were never made aware of the extensive injuries to the back of the head until sometime after his death. Why was this? Here was us thinking that it had been a terrible accident, with the killer in the background laughing his socks off. If we had known while Ryan was in hospital the extent of his injuries my Dad would have.......well I leave that to your imagination. By the time we knew the true story, that piece of pond life who had killed Ryan, was a 100miles away in an Army barracks.
With your help I would like the law changed so a body can be held for no longer than three months, not indefinitely as is the present situation. The law takes the criminal's part, but what of the victims family?
While my Son was lying in the mortuary this long time, a series of incidents occurred that only increased my sense of despair and helplessness. There was no way that I could continue to live in the house where my son had died. I was lucky to have good friends who agreed to exchange houses with me.
As soon as they moved in, my friends husband, whilst shaving in the bathroom every morning, would hear the noise of someone going downstairs and into the living room. The first time this happened , he thought that it was his own young son, but on checking he found that his son was fast asleep in bed. The stereo would be switched on and off, always playing the same song. A light bulb would burst and the smoke alarm would sound without warning.
After this had been going on for several weeks, my friends called in a Priest, the same Priest who had christened Ryan and was later to conduct his funeral service. Father Rice said that because Ryan had not been buried, he was very confused and he was hanging around the house, so prayers would be needed to lay his spirit to rest. After prayers were said, and Holy water sprinkled, no more unexplained noises were heard.
This event strengthened my resolve to get the law changed, so that no other Mother, on the loss of her child, should suffer further agony because of the actions of smart alec defence lawyers who should be ashamed of themselves. The Human Tissue Act(1961), states that 2nd and subsequent post mortems may not be carried out without the permission of the family. I was not told that this law even exists. If I had known of this law, I would have demanded the return of my son. The defence requested a hearing before the Judge and asked that the burial be delayed until after the trial, and for some unknown reason the Judge granted this request. You would think that I would have been informed of this hearing so that I could have been given the chance to have my say on the matter, or arrange to have legal representation to give my side of the case. But no. The information that the release of Ryan's body would be indefinitely delayed was given to me by a visit from one of the policeman involved with the case. A further shattering blow to my feelings. Do the legal professions get some perverse satisfaction from these situations? If I had known of this law, I would have refused permission to hold my son, one post mortem is enough, as was shown by the absence of any action on the part of the defence. My son lay in a mortuary for 18 months because no one had informed me of my rights, and because of the bloody mindedness of the defence who had no case. Is this English justice?
Ryan died at Southampton General Hospital and was retained in the mortuary there. A little later we discovered that he had been moved to Dorchester. How did I find this out? By a chance remark from the funeral director when we were discussing future plans for Ryan. Would it have been too much trouble to inform his Mother that he was being moved? When I was informed that the defence would make a post mortem of their own, I was led to believe that once that had taken place, I would be able to bury Ryan. How did I keep check as to if this 2nd post mortem had taken place? By asking the funeral director to phone the mortuary at Dorchester on a regular basis and make enquiries. Why should I have to rely on the enquiries of a very helpful funeral director to keep me informed of actions being taken on the body of my dead son? It turned out that no 2nd post mortem ever took place, so why did the defence block all efforts by me to have my son buried? It took 18 months before I could bury my son. The indescribable prolonged agony of myself and family was caused by the smart talking defence lawyers. And the final blow came when 3 days after the trial, I discovered that they were releasing Ryan for burial. How did I find that out? By a phone call from the funeral director. So they could inform him but not me direct. That just about sums up the way Ryan and I have been treated.
And how could I possibly forget about the many letters exchanged between me and the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. Silly me thought that these people would help me to get my Son released. What a shower they turned out to be. How can the legal profession monitor the legal profession? They twisted and turned and used every word in the dictionary to justify the refusal to allow me to bury my son. They twisted and turned so much that I had to appeal to the Ombudsman to try and sort it out. He sorted it out all right by informing me with words to the effect that I was not a "legal" person, so therefore could not understand the need to retain my sons body. Does any lay person know the reason? Come to think of it, I doubt if many legal eagles would either.
Please show your support to make certain no other families suffer the prolonged anguish mine did. The campaign has now ended, but we still need to keep pressure on the government to bring forward the measures that they have tentatively promised to put in place. We are doing this mainly via the media. What follows on these pages is an indication of how we have achieved the position we are in now. If anyone logging on to this site agrees with the aim of our campaign to get the law changed, drop an e mail to your MP, urging them to support a change in the law, and vote for the changes when presented to Parliament, or even better, e mail to Harriet Harmon, at email@example.com so that no other family suffers so grievously in the future. We have had some feedback that some visitors to this site are doing just that and mailing their MPs. It does not matter which party your MP belongs to, as this is a completely non political campaign. It is purely at the whim of the defence barrister as to whether a burial can be indefinitely delayed , in this case for 18 months, for no apparent reason other than that they can! Lets put a stop to this nonsense.