Lost at sea – found in an unmarked grave

James Ewan (73) of Burntisland'suspected of falling from cruise ship Celebrity Century
James Ewan (73) of Burntisland'suspected of falling from cruise ship Celebrity Century

A BURNTISLAND pensioner who was declared missing at sea five years ago has been buried in an unmarked grave in Portugal.

But one of Jimmy Ewan’s best friends, and executor of his will, has slammed the authorities for failing to tell him about the burial and then failing to provide a death certificate to wind up his estate.

And John Cooper (74), a retired Burntisland businessman, has vowed to provide a headstone to mark his pal’s final resting place in Faro.

Mr Ewan (73), was reported missing from the cruise ship Celebrity Century when it docked in Madeira in November 2006.

Atlantic cruise

He had boarded the vessel two days before for a trans-Atlantic cruise in Barcelona.

When his cabin was checked all his clothes and possessions were laid out neatly, with his friend John Cooper’s name and phone number beside them.

Despite extensive searches of the area, Mr Ewan was not found.

Mr Cooper recalls being contacted by the FBI and police in Portugal trying to solve the mystery and officials taking some of Mr Ewan’s possessions for DNA testing.

“It was a long time later,’’ he said.

‘‘I can’t remember how long it was when they called me to say his body had been washed up in Portugal and it had been buried in part of a cemetery for those which have not been claimed.

“I was angry and shocked.


‘‘I would have gone out and had him cremated to bring his ashes back.

‘‘I would have scattered them on the golf course or at Aberdour tennis courts where he loved to play.

‘‘But I was never given the opportunity.”

Mr Cooper, who described Mr Ewan as “like a member of the family” said he did not want to disturb his grave, and thought it best to leave him where he was.

He added: “I’d like to go to Portugal and have a stonemason make a headstone to recognise his final resting place.’’

Mr Cooper and Mr Ewan’s solicitors have been trying to get a death certificate from the Portugese authorities for months, but are only now starting to make some headway.

He said: “We have been through police, consulates and embassies to try to get a certificate to wind up his estate.

‘‘Just this week have been told we will be receiving information from the British Embassy which should help bring this to an end once and for all.”