Funeral director explains why coffin was swapped for cheap box before cremation

A Queensland funeral home accused of swapping a grandmother's expensive coffin for a cheap pine box says it was only done so the pricey casket wouldn't crack.

Rockhampton funeral director Tony Hart has told The Courier-Mail his company, Harts Family Funerals, only moved the woman's body to a crematorium in a cheaper box to protect the structural integrity of the $1700 casket her family paid for.

"The coffin she was cremated in was the same one that the family bought," Mr Hart has told the newspaper, after police said they were investigating complaints from the family of 74-year-old Janice Cecilia Valigura.

Mr Hart said there had been a delay at the crematorium which meant the coffin had to be placed in a freezer prior to cremation and the cheap pine box was a transfer shell.

Funeral Director Tony Hart has said Ms Valigura was buried in the coffin her family had paid for. Source: Harts Family Funerals

Queensland Police are still investigating the matter and have spoken to people from the funeral parlour and the crematorium.

Ms Valigura's son Mick Valigura on Thursday said the family was shocked by what had happened.

"I just don't want this to happen to anyone else," he told The Morning Bulletin.

Detectives raided the Central Queensland funeral home on Thursday over allegations it switched a grandmother's $1700 silky oak coffin for a cheap pine box just before her cremation.

Ms Valigura was farewelled in Rockhampton on Monday, after suffering a stroke on New Year's Eve.

But immediately following her funeral, her family say she was removed from her casket, wrapped in plastic and placed in a cheap pine box prior to her cremation.

Rockhampton Detectives raided Hart’s Family funerals over allegations it switched a woman’s coffin. Source: 7 News

They told the Rockhampton Bulletin the priest blessed Mrs Valigura's coffin before it was carried out by her grandchildren and taken to the Rockhampton crematorium.

But the family was made to wait an hour before the casket arrived at the crematorium.

Mrs Valigura's niece Kerry Rothery said when the coffin finally arrived, a family friend spotted the pine box and asked her about the odd choice, believing the family would have selected a more fitting casket to farewell the woman.

Ms Rothery inspected the coffin and was devastated about what she says she found after seeing her aunt's body wrapped in plastic in the pine box.

She also said personal letters written by her grand­children and placed on her heart had been tossed inside.

Detectives investigated the family's claims when visiting the business on Thursday. Source: 7 News