Relatives in dispute over Mark’sfinal resting place

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A GRIEVING mother is hoping she can bring her late son home to rest in his native Levenmouth.

Bereaved Methil mum Linda McComiskie believes it was the final wish of her soldier son, Mark Connolly, to be buried at a family plot in East Wemyss.

Private Connolly (24), who survived serious injuries in an explosion in Afghanistan, died in May this year after an alleged brawl at a German army base.

Sadly, Ms McComiskie has become locked in a court wrangle with her son’s widow, Stacy Connolly, over the Black Watch soldier’s final resting place.

Mrs Connolly, of Forfar, indicated at a court hearing last week her husband had said he would not want to be buried in Methil, as he did not like the place.

But Ms McComiskie insists her son wanted to be buried locally, next to his grandfather - and she is determined to follow his wish through.

Ex-Buckhaven High School pupil Mark served in Afghanistan with the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

He had also seen service in Iraq and Northern Ireland.

In 2009, he suffered severe arm injuries in a Taliban blast in Afghanistan, which killed one of his comrades.

Last year, he took part in New York’s Tartan Week and raised money for veterans’ charities.

However, at the end of an army drivers’ training course in Germany, Pte Connolly died in hospital on May 14, after an alleged fight at Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) premises on a camp in Sennelager.

Now there is a court dispute over where the 24-year-old should be buried.

His widow Stacy lodged papers with the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week, challenging a Ministry of Defence ruling to release his body to his mother, Linda McComiskie.

Ms McComiskie is named as executor in his will, while Mrs Connolly is the beneficiary.

Ms McComiskie, and Pte Connolly’s stepdad, Les Sneddon, of Methil, told the Mail the whole matter had been extremely upsetting.

They hoped it would be resolved in their favour.

They believed that, by naming his mother as executor, along with his older brother, Pte Connolly (24) had given responsibility to his family for funeral arrangements.

Ms McComiskie (47) maintained her son had said he’d want to be buried next to his grandfather, John McComiskie, at the family lair in East Wemyss.

However, a contradictory claim was made at last Tuesday’s hearing.

Mrs Connolly said that, although her husband left no written instructions, he made it clear to her he did not like Methil and did not want to be buried there.

She said her husband, whom she married in 2009, wanted to be buried wherever they settled as a couple.

Mrs Connolly, who did not attend the hearing, was seeking a judicial review of a decision by the MoD’s Service Personnel and Veterans Agency.

It said it had to release her husband’s body to his mother, as executor in his will.

But Mrs Connolly’s lawyers said while that may be the case under English law, it did not apply in Scotland.

Kenneth Campbell, counsel representing the MoD, said: “The aim is that there should be a dignified funeral for Private Connolly.

“The situation which arises in this case is one which has no easy answer.”

Philip Stuart, counsel for Ms McComiskie, urged the court to throw out Mrs Connolly’s request. He said the MoD could not adjudicate between family members and their competing claims, and the policy was that the body should go to an executor.

Judge Lord Brodie said although there had already been a delay, he could not end the women’s wait that day.

“It will obviously be given very high priority,” he promised.

The judge will give his decision in writing at a later date.

Ms McComiskie and Mr Sneddon said they would be prepared to challenge the ruling if it went against them.

“It’s Mark’s last wish and testament to be buried here and we just want to do what’s right for him,” said his mother.

Mr Sneddon (46) added there was no chance to grieve for Mark while all the inquiries and court action continued.

The family had heard it was likely Pte Connolly would receive a military funeral.

Another soldier has been arrested by the Royal Military Police investigating Pte Connolly’s death.