Two families arguing over a Black Country burial plot where the body of murdered bricklayer lies remained at loggerheads despite the efforts of church leaders.
The Archdeacon of Walsall, the Venerable Chris Sims, is to ask the Consistory Court for the Diocese of Lichfield to decide how a burial mix-up at the Walsall Wood churchyard should be resolved.
The consistory court, which is responsible for legal issues in churchyards and consecrated buildings, will now have to consider whether the body of Danny Hastelow should be exhumed and moved to another part of the churchyard.
Gavin Drake, the director of communications for the Diocese of Lichfield, said: “The Archdeacon of Walsall, the Venerable Chris Sims, has spoken with both families and their legal representatives but has been unable to reach a consensus about what should happen.
“He is now applying for a faculty from the Consistory Court.
“It is likely that a hearing will be held in the New Year at which both families will be able to make their representations before a decision is taken.
Recently the body of Mr Hastelow was accidentally buried in a grave plot which had been reserved by the widow of the man buried in the next grave.
Mr Hastelow was stabbed to death in Majorca in 2008, but his body only returned to the Midlands at the start of last month after a lengthy legal case against his killer.
His sister, Claire Peters, said: “I have sobbed and sobbed.
“He has already been exhumed once, this is so wrong. He needs to be laid to rest and left alone.”
Michael Best died just under a year ago and his widow, Jean Best, secured the reservation by faculty – ecclesiastical planning permission – so she could be buried next to her husband when she died.
Mrs Best, aged 71, said: “I felt like committing suicide when I found out.”
Mr Drake, from the Diocese of Lichfield, added: “I would like to stress that no blame should be attached to the families for the failure to reach agreement.
“Both families are completely without fault. This problem has arisen simply because of a mistake by the church and we remain extremely sorry that this has happened.
“We understand the added grief that this is causing both families and hope that a final decision can be taken early in the New Year.”