THE family of a gunman killed six years ago by a bullet from his own handgun as he grappled with police searching his home for a cannabis farm have won rare consent from the Church of England to have his cremated remains exhumed.

The exhumation paves the way for his remains to be moved to another cemetery where his family own two plots and his own father is buried.

Father-of-three Colin Berry was 49 when eight unarmed police raided his home at Buckingham Crescent, Clayton, looking for a cannabis farm they believed was there.

During the raid, in April 2013, there was a struggle and Mr Berry was shot in the head with his own Smith & Wesson revolver.

A six-day inquest was held in 2015 into Mr Berry’s death and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

The inquest heard that Mr Berry’s 13-year-old daughter Colleen was in the room when the shot was fired.

Police later revealed they found what they described as a “significant” haul of arms at the house, which included 1,000 rounds of ammunition, 12 live guns and a crossbow.

Mr Berry’s wife, Janette, had her husband’s remains buried in Clayton Cemetery which was adjacent to their home. However, the judgment giving consent for exhumation says that she then distanced herself from Mr Berry’s family.

Three houses which were jointly owned by her and her husband were sold shortly after Mr Berry’s death and Mrs Berry and the children disappeared, leaving the undertaker’s funeral bill unpaid.

Now Mr Berry’s sister, Mrs Lesley Town, has won rare permission for her brother’s remains to be exhumed from Clayton Cemetery so they can be re-buried in Queensbury Cemetery where the family own two plots and where Mr Berry’s father is already buried.

Permission for exhumation is seldom given as the Church of England view on burials in consecrated ground is that a last resting place should be just that.

In this case though, Mark Hill QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Leeds, in his role as a judge of the CoE Consistory Court, has ruled that the circumstances are sufficiently exceptional to side-step the normal rule.

Granting consent he said: “I consider this to be a highly exceptional case.”

He continued: “In my assessment, the petitioners have satisfied me on the evidence that the place of interment for Mr Berry was not one discussed and agreed by his wider family, that the trauma of his death from a gunshot wound inflicted during a police raid gave rise to a febrile situation which denied all concerned the luxury of informed decision making.

“A rift within the family was in gestation. The subsequent disappearance of Mr Berry’s widow and children in unexplained circumstances, has created an ‘abandoned’ (and still unmarked) grave, the rights in relation to which still vest in Mrs Berry, whose whereabouts are unknown.”

The plot at Queensbury Cemetery is not consecrated and the judge insisted that before Mr Berry’s remains were moved there it should be consecrated.

He added: “I hope that the relatives of Mr Berry will derive some comfort from the fact that his remains will now lie alongside those of other family members, providing a seemly and enduring resting place following a life cut tragically short; a fitting plot with an appropriate memorial where he can be mourned and remembered by those who loved him.”

The inquest heard officers went to an upstairs bedroom of the house where Mr Berry was with his daughter Colleen, then aged 13. A struggle ensued between Mr Berry and one of the police officers during which Mr Berry suffered a single gunshot wound.

Colleen, giving evidence by video link, said her father pushed her behind him and stood to face the police. She said officers entered the room and Mr Berry put the gun in the waistband at the back of his shorts and held his arms up in surrender.

She said Mr Berry reached back and one of the officers said he had a weapon and tried to tackle him.

“That’s when the smaller officer decided he’d push against him (Mr Berry) and reached for it (the gun),” she said.

The girl added: “The gun went off, and the officer got off from on top of him. He had something in his hand. I think that was the gun, but I’m not sure.”

Asked where the gun was, the teenager replied: “I think they both had a grip of it. Mr Berry had the trigger and the handle and the officer had the barrel.”

She said the gunshot was muffled and sounded like a pop.

The jury was told Mr Berry’s children kept asking officers how their dad was as they sat in a police van outside.

The 49-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene by ambulance crews.