A DISTRESSED family have won damages from Bradford Council over concerns their daughter's body was left "forgotten about" in the city's mortuary.

Emily Whelan, died aged 25, in November 2016, having been found unresponsive at her flat in Yeadon. Medics were told she had suffered a seizure due to epilepsy - a condition she was taking medication for. She was taken to Leeds General Infirmary, where she later died.

Mum Caramella Brennan explained how her daughter's body was first stored at the mortuary at LGI for a month and a half, before being transferred to the Public Mortuary and Forensic Science Centre in Bradford for around ten months.

They had immediate concerns about how she died, and pushed for a more detailed forensic post mortem to be carried out.

But in the intervening months the married mum-of-two's body had decomposed to the extent that further investigations were hampered - leaving the family unable to gain vital answers about just how she died.

Mrs Brennan told the Telegraph & Argus: "It's like Emily's body was left forgotten about. She was a good lass, she really was. No one deserves to be treated like this, not in life or in death.

"Now we'll never know exactly what happened to her. We had to fight for a forensic post mortem and we had expected that her body would be stored and kept properly, until we could have her body back and be able to bury her."

The family were told by police in late 2017 that Emily's body had decomposed and was unrecognisable, so they were advised not to view her body.

The experience has left Mrs Brennan with post-traumatic stress disorder and with "distressing and grotesque images" in her mind of what Emily's body must have looked like.

The family have sued both Bradford Council, which is responsible for the city's mortuary, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the mortuary at LGI.

Mrs Brennan's solicitor Matthew Gold added: "The claim is that Emily's body was first at the LGI for about 45 days, and then was transferred to the Bradford mortuary for about ten months. The body had badly decomposed and was unfit to view.

"The family allege there is a duty to show the body respect and dignity."

He explained how they had brought a claim against both organisations under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act - respect for private and family life.

He added that Bradford Council had admitted liability, settling the case last year - and paying out damages. While a civil court case starts in Leeds today against the NHS Trust.

Mrs Brennan said: "I just want them to admit what they've done and make sure this doesn't happen to anyone again. Bradford have admitted their part and they've put extra measures in place too."

A spokesman for the Council said: “This has clearly been a very difficult time for the family of Ms Whelan and we understand the distress and upset that this must have caused them. The case against the Council was settled."

They added that Emily's body was transferred to the Bradford mortuary in December 2016 for storage pending collection by the family.

Her body, which was "in poor condition and decomposed" was placed in a refrigerated unit. Unit temperatures were checked on a daily basis and information kept on file, with no issues arising in regard to temperature fluctuations during the period she was there.

"No instruction to freeze the body was made by the Coroner’s Officer (East) and the Forensic Science Centre expected a funeral director to collect the body. The previous HM Coroner (East) accepted the situation was due to poor communication within his service," added the Council.

The Trust said: "The matter is being heard in the Leeds County Court. Liability is in dispute and it would be inappropriate for the Trust to comment further at this time."