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FINALLY AT REST; Tragic Orkney babies given a dignified burial after 80 years.

Byline: ROBERT FAIRBURN

THE bodies of three new-born babies found buried under the floor of an Orkney croft were finally laid to rest yesterday.

And they were buried in the same graveyard as their grandmother - who allegedly murdered them at birth.

During a poignant funeral service, the remains of the children were brought to the graveside in three tiny caskets.

But they went to their final resting place with the mystery of how they died, around 80 years ago, unsolved.

It's not even known what names, if any, they were given.

And no one will ever know for sure whether they indeed perished, as many suspect, at the hands of their grandmother, Tomima Gray.

It is believed she drowned them in a bucket of water because her daughter, Violet, was not married.

Yesterday's service took place under a cloudless sky at the Harray cemetery, two miles from St Olaf's Cottage, the isolated croft where the remains were found.

A wreath was laid by Margaret Gray, who is convinced the babies were murdered by their grandmother to prevent an illegitimacy scandal.

Margaret, whose late husband, Gordon, was the only surviving child of Violet Gray, helped lift each casket into its final resting place.

She said: "I am completely sure that the children were from the Gray family. I am glad I was there to take part. It was a wonderful service and I hope they can now rest in peace."

Inspector Paul Eddington, of Northern Constabulary, who led the investigation into the babies' deaths, carried one of the caskets to the graveside.

He said that circumstantial evidence pointed to a link with the Gray family but that it had been impossible to extract any DNA to prove a connection.

He added: "But it was important that a member of the family was here to say a final farewell - and what we were able to do was provide a dignified end to this whole investigation."

The service was conducted by police chaplain Rev Dr Mike Ward.

He said: "There is so much we don't know about these babies - no names, no dates of birth, no definite family ties.

"It was important that we respected these three tiny individuals and gave them the dignity and sympathy I think their mother, who is long dead, would have wanted so long ago."

Orkney Islands Council official Val Cameron also attended the burial.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 26, 2002
Words:397
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