A MORTUARY worker who received a woman's body, which was so badly decomposed a pathologist could not examine it, felt like he was being "stiffed", a court has heard.

Emily Whelan, 25, was found unresponsive in her bedroom in Yeadon on November 7, 2016, and rushed by ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary.

She died there before being transferred to Bradford Mortuary where she was tended to by then manager Andrew Gale, who gave evidence at Leeds County Court.

Emily's family suspect she was killed but when, the pathologist came to examine her body, third party involvement was unable to be ruled out because of decomposition.

Mr Gale, who is now retired, today accused LGI of "duping" him into taking care of a body in "such a poor state".

Emily's family say her body was decomposed and unfit to be viewed when it arrived at Bradford Mortuary on December 23, 2016.

They claim hospital staff stored the body in a fridge instead of freezing it.

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.

The Bradford Mortuary, which also only stored Emily’s body in a fridge, has accepted it breached the Human Rights Act as the body was not shown dignity and respect. However, Leeds NHS Hospital Trust denies liability.

READ MORE: Distressed family win damages after daughter's body decomposes in Bradford's mortuary

Giving evidence, Mr Gale told the court four bodies including Emily's arrived from LGI on December 23, 2016.

He said: "Each body was in a poor state, some more poor than others. It seemed odd that the only bodies LGI were going to send us just happened to be decomposed.

"It's unusual to receive four bodies from a hospital in such a poor state. My exact words were, 'we are being stiffed here', which basically means we have been duped into taking these bodies.

"The only reason we would have had these bodies sent over is because they were in a poor state and they would rather have them kept with us than at LGI.

"I knew what condition Emily's body was in and that as time goes on that condition would not get any better."

However, when asked to specifically recall the conditions of the other three bodies received from LGI Mr Gale was unable to.

He said: "The only reason I recall Emily's body is because she was so young. There are bodies that stick in your mind."

The barrister representing Emily's family, Nick Brown, highlighted a number of procedural issues at Bradford Mortuary on the day Emily and three others arrived.

He told the court a number of patient admission forms had been filled out with the wrong date while at least one other had important sections missing.

Mr Gale, who signed each form, said: "It's just a clerical error."

One of the missing sections, it was heard, asked Mr Gale to describe the condition of one of the bodies.

There was also confusion on the mortuary's part about the identity of one of the individuals transferred to Bradford on the 23rd. Mr Gale accepted it could have been one of two people.

The barrister representing Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Nicola Greaney, argued the mis-dated forms had not been filled out when they should have, but at a later date.

When Mr Gale was asked if he could explain why some sections of the patient admission forms were missing he replied "no".

He added: "We were getting a lot of bodies coming in, we had bodies coming in and going out.

"It was a busy period, especially before Christmas."

Ms Greaney said Bradford Mortuary's paperwork suggested five bodies had arrived from LGI on the 23rd.

That information contradicted Mr Gale's statement, it was heard, but the witness said he was "sticking with" what he had written.

Ms Greaney went on to say the mortuary had not raised any issue about the condition of Emily's body until September 2017, when her mum wrote a letter to Bradford Council.

Mr Gale rejected that, saying: "I would not say there was no issue, she was visually decomposing even more."

Ms Greaney highlighted the mortuary's paperwork relating to the state of the bodies was light on detail.

In the section where a worker was asked to describe the condition of the body someone had written 'decomposed' and 'poor'.

The court also heard that mortuary staff at LGI failed to move Emily's body into a freezer 30 days after her death despite national guidance.

Giving evidence, hospital official Alexandrea Sunderland said Emily remained in a fridge right up until she was transferred to Bradford.

Mr Brown told the court bodies should be moved to a freezer within 30 days "in order to maintain integrity and dignity".

He cited guidelines issued by the Human Tissue Authority, a non-departmental public body of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Mr Brown said: "If a body is decomposing badly there's no excuse for allowing the body to deteriorate further.

"You should not just let a body continue to decompose to whatever state it may become, you have to find some place with freezer space."

Ms Sunderland said LGI had limited freezer capacity but that they could move bodies to Bradford as and when they needed to.

Mr Brown told her there was "no excuse" for not carrying out a contingency plan.

Ms Sunderland, who is LGI's chief anatomical pathology technologist, told the court bodies in the Leeds mortuary were checked by staff on a daily basis.

However, she admitted there are no records describing the condition of Emily's body at any point during her 45-day stay at the hospital.

The court earlier heard medics were told Emily had suffered an epileptic seizure. However, her family insisted Emily had never had any significant issues with the condition, which she had managed since childhood.

An initial cause of death was given as a hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury – lack of oxygen to the brain – after a cardiac arrest.

However, the underlying cause of the cardiac arrest was not determined and her family suspected foul play.

The hearing continues.