Yoxford/Lowestoft: Funeral director to do 200 hours’ unpaid work after failing to hand over mourners’ charitable donations

Funeral director Reginald Rivett arriving at Lowestoft Magistrates Court.

Funeral director Reginald Rivett arriving at Lowestoft Magistrates Court. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

A FUNERAL director who failed to hand over charitable donations from mourners has been ordered to do 200 hours’ unpaid work in the community.

Reginald Rivett, who ran R Rivett Ltd Funeral Directors based in Lowestoft, had struggled to keep proper records after he was forced to make his book-keeper redundant and the police were called in after bereaved relatives complained about charities not receiving donations collected at funerals months earlier, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Rivett, 60, of Woodland Cottage, Yoxford, admitted failing to keep adequate accounting records.

Ordering him to do 200 hours’ unpaid work in the community as part of a 12-month community order, Judge David Goodin said the offence did not cross the custody threshold.

He ordered Rivett, whose business collapsed following the police investigation, to pay £1,000 towards the costs of the prosecution but said he did not consider it necessary to disqualify him from being a company director.

Judge Goodin said five generations of Rivett’s family had worked for the “reputable and highly respected” business since it was founded in 1888.

He said the offence had been committed after the business had cash-flow problems after its overdraft facility was reduced by his bank and Rivett had been forced to make his book-keeper, who had been responsible for dealing with charitable donations, redundant.

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He said that all money due had now been paid and it was accepted by the prosecution that Rivett had been chaotic rather than dishonest in relation to donations.

After yesterday’s hearing Rivett expressed his “sincere regret” for what had happened and apologised for the “considerable upset” caused to bereaved families.

He said he was relieved that the prosecution and the court had accepted he was not dishonest and that it was a case of administrative failings.

Hugh Vass, prosecuting, told the court a number of bereaved families had contacted the police because of concerns about charity donations from funerals not being passed on months after the funerals had taken place, despite their efforts to chase things up.

“This caused them anxiety and distress,” Mr Vass said.

When police officers searched Rivett’s home and office they found a number of cheques made out to charities such as the British Heart Foundation, the RNLI and the Caister lifeboat appeal which had not been forwarded on to them by Rivett.

For Rivett, Steven Dyble said his client, who was of previous good character, realised he had let a number of people down and caused them considerable distress.

He said the company had subsequently collapsed as a result of the police investigation and adverse publicity.

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