Twisted burglar broke into funeral home and looted coffins to rob bodies

Marc Griffin made his way into the Chapel of Repose at Padfields Funeral Services and ransacked drawers, cupboards and personal belongings of the deceased

Marc Griffin, who was arrested after raiding a Barnstaple funeral home
Marc Griffin has been sentenced to prison for searching a funeral home in Barnstaple

A sick burglar was put behind bars after searching a funeral home; Dump ashes of the deceased on the ground and try to steal from the bodies of the dead.

Marc Griffin entered the Chapel of Repose at Padfields Funeral Services in Barnstaple and ransacked the deceased’s drawers, cupboards and personal belongings.

The looter also opened a sealed letter that a family wanted to put in the coffin with their loved one, broke into collection boxes and stole the keys to the hearse. Devon Live reports.

Griffin left a sample of destruction as he dumped ashes and ripped crematorium certificates from boxes with his cut and bloodied hands.

Most shockingly, he also disturbed two dead bodies while looking for items to steal. The families have described their complete shock upon learning of the callous and appalling desecration.

Griffin, a drug user with more than 200 previous crimes, told Exeter Crown Court he regretted and was embarrassed by his actions.

Griffin’s horrific crime spree targeted Padfield’s Devon undertakers

The judge, who sentenced him to two years and seven months in prison, said: “Over the years you have attempted to break into and break into 60 premises or homes to steal the living. Here you tried to steal the deceased. There was complete indifference and disregard for the hurt, pain and hardship that inevitably inflicts on loved ones.”

Griffin admitted to three burglaries, all committed in the early hours of March 13. Prosecutor Ms Althea Brooks said CCTV first showed him around 3am outside the Lemon Next To The Pie cafe on Holland Street.

He used a hammer to smash his way through a window and could be seen pulling out the register with £240 in cash. He also took a cup of tips, but cut his hands on the broken glass.

Then he went on to the undertakers on nearby Boutport Street. After breaking into a store next door, he left the premises “in a serious state of disarray,” prosecutors said.

He ransacked cupboards and drawers, removed ashes from boxes, and left his bloody handprints on boxes as he tore off crematorium certificates. He emptied more tubs of ashes and ransacked the coffin workshop, leaving tools on the floor.

Ms Brooks said sacks of clothing for the deceased were emptied and a sealed letter meant for a coffin was torn open and left “with traces of blood on the rest of the letter”.

He went to the fridge and opened two bags of corpses. When staff arrived the next day, they found they were obviously moved when he searched for items to steal. Griffin had also searched the Mercedes hearse but did not damage it.

The third burglary happened at a nearby Sophisticuts hair salon. Griffin stole two hair clippers worth £50 each, an Alexa speaker and hair straighteners worth £100. He also helped himself with money from two charity boxes.

Griffin, who lived in sheltered accommodation on St George’s Road, was easily tracked down via a bloody trail and discarded stolen items leading through Hilton Park, Pilton car park and a pair of stolen beard trimmers under his bathtub.

The cafe’s owner said she ran out of cash on the premises. She had also decided to sell the business she had been building for years due to the fear and loss of confidence caused by the burglary.

Three statements were also read on behalf of families who had relatives in Padfields. Everyone said their grief and trauma of loss was made much worse by knowing what Griffin had done.

One said her mother was in her 90s and had served her country in the war.

“It was a place where she should have been safe and at peace and quiet,” she said.

“When we found out that someone had broken into and disturbed my mother, I was horrified and the whole family was devastated. Our loved one was hurt in this way. We are appalled that anyone could have done something like this and find it so shocking.”

Another said his “gentleman,” the 90-year-old uncle, was lying in his coffin while Griffin rummaged nearby.

A third said Griffin searched her mother for jewelry.

“Your peaceful sanctity was violated by this vile person who disturbed my mother’s rest period,” they said. “He has prolonged the grief and sadness of my mother’s death, our dear Mama.”

The burglaries breached a 16-week suspended sentence imposed on Griffin for breaking into an apartment in August last year.

Ms Evie Dean, who defended herself, said he wanted a chance to continue working on parole but realized he could face jail. He came from a difficult background in caregiving and his ex had died of a drug overdose. He stole to feed his drug addiction, but now he was a grandfather and he regretted what he had done.

Judge Paul Cook said: “It’s the effect you had on various victims, along with the manner that is most relevant to sentencing.”

He said Griffin deprived his victims of the opportunity to grieve and “magnified the trauma for them manifold.”

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