Body of royal hoax nurse taken to India

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2012, 1:38pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 December, 2012, 4:46pm

The body of an Indian-born nurse found dead after taking a hoax call to the hospital treating Prince William’s wife was due to arrive in Mangalore on Sunday following a mass in her memory held in London.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found hanged days after answering the prank telephone call from two Australian radio DJs posing as British royals to the hospital where Catherine was admitted during the early stages of her pregnancy.

Mangalore, some 360 kilometres from the high-tech southern city of Bangalore, is where Saldanha’s mother lives along with another daughter and a son.

Saldanha’s body will arrive a day after the nurse’s children told a service at London’s Westminster Cathedral that her death had created “an unfillable void”.

Her husband, 14-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son paid tribute to a loving wife and mother, whose death following what the hospital described as a “cruel trick”, had left them bereft.

“We will miss your laughter, the loving memories and the good times we had together. The house is an empty dwelling without your presence,” her daughter Lisha said.

“We love you Mum,” she said.

Police in Mangalore, near Shirva town, where Saldanha’s family plan to hold her funeral on Monday, told reporters the body would be accompanied by the nurse’s husband, Benedict Barboza, 49, and the children.

“Jacintha’s body is expected to arrive in Mangalore on Sunday afternoon,” Mangalore police commissioner Manish Kardikar told reporters.

William Menezes, spokesman for the diocese of Mangalore, told reporters the funeral would take place on Monday at 4.00pm in Shirva and police said as many as 5,000 people were expected to attend.

A London inquest last week heard that Saldanha, who moved to Britain from India around 12 years ago, had been found hanged in staff accommodation on December 7.

A few days earlier, the nurse put the prank call from the Australian radio station through to a colleague, who relayed details about Catherine’s severe morning sickness.

Saldanha left three notes, one of which reportedly criticised her colleagues over her treatment at the King Edward VII private hospital.

The hospital has defended itself, saying it offered support to Saldanha and had stressed to her she would not be disciplined for being taken in by the call.

Dozens of Indian students marched to the British High Commission in New Delhi on Saturday, calling for a probe into what they claimed was a “mysterious death”.

The demonstrators carried banners demanding “Justice for Jacintha” and alleged that “as a person of Indian origin she was isolated, victimised and subjected to harassment by the authorities”.

Australian police say death threats have been made against Michael Christian and Mel Greig, the DJs from Sydney’s 2Day FM radio station who made the call. The presenters made tearful apologies last week.