Women 'tried to get dead body on easyJet flight in Liverpool'
Hand luggage outside Liverpool John Lennon Airport
A spokeswoman for the airport said "it is a bit of a strange one to be honest"
Two women have been arrested for trying to push a dead relative strapped to a wheelchair onto a Berlin-bound flight at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
Police were called when staff at the easyJet check-in desk became suspicious about the elderly man who was partially hidden behind sunglasses and did not appear to be moving very much.
They discovered that the would-be passenger, understood to be a 91-year-old German national, was not asleep as his companions insisted but had been dead for some time.
Officers arrested the two women, aged 44 and 66, on suspicion of failing to give notification of a death.
It is believed that the couple, who had travelled to the airport from Oldham, in Greater Manchester, were attempting to evade the complex and costly process of repatriating human remains abroad.
The coroner was today waiting for the results of the post mortem examination being carried out in Liverpool but police sources suggested that it was likely to show the man died earlier this week from natural causes.
A spokeswoman for John Lennon Aiport, said: “I have never heard of anything like this before. It is a bit of a strange one to be honest.”
It is believed that the women set out on Saturday morning. They successfully managed to get the body into a taxi and to the airport. The driver is said to have been left “upset and devastated” by the experience.
At the airport, the dead man was manhandled into the wheelchair and sunglasses placed over his lifeless eyes. When tentative inquiries were made about the man’s health, his companions insisted he was merely sleeping.
The couple wheeled the dead man across the airport concourse to the easyJet check-in desk where, initially, staff were concerned for the passenger’s health.
A police spource said: “They were just concerned for the man. They went to speak to him and realised something was wrong”.
Further investigation confirmed that he had been dead on arrival at the airport.
Officers from Merseyside Police arrested the two women who were questioned and later released on police bail. A spokesman said that the exact circumstances of the death were still being investigated but foul play is not believed to have been involved.
Bodies being repatriated by air are required to be contained inside hermetically-sealed zinc-lined coffins and kept in the cargo hold for the duration of the journey. The process has to be accompanied by the requisite paperwork.
A spokeswoman for Rowland Brothers, a funeral directors which specialise in the field, said: “I have not heard of anything like this before. It is most bizarre. I am outraged that they would think they could get away with it.
“There are rules and regulations to adhere to and documentation to complete before you can transport human remains to a foreign country. Germany is not particularly a difficult country but you still have to have the correct documentation.”
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “At 11am on Saturday 3 April 2010, police at Liverpool John Lennon airport were alerted to the death of a 91-year-old man in the terminal building.
“Two women aged 41 and 66 were arrested on suspicion of failing to give notification of death. They have been released on bail until 1 June 2010. The coroner has been informed and police are continuing with their inquiries”.
A spokesman for the airport, which remained open throughout the incident, said: “We are co-operating with police in their investigation.”
A spokeswoman for easyJet said: "Two female passengers arrived at Liverpool John Lennon Airport to check in for the EZY 7223 flight to Berlin with an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair.
"On arrival at the airport, staff were immediately concerned about his health and the first aid team were called. It was then discovered the passenger was, in fact, deceased and the police were called. The two female passengers were subsequently arrested and this is now subject to a police investigation."
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