THE remains of a baby boy who died 27 years ago in his cot are to be exhumed from a churchyard in Tilehurst and to be re-buried in Ireland.

A leading churchman in England has granted the father rare permission for the exhumation so that when the father, who is seriously ill with terminal cancer dies, they can be re-united in the grave.

The baby boy, Alex, was under three months old when he died as a result of cot death and was buried in St Michael’s church yard.

This was at the wishes of his mother, Susan, who was later divorced from his father, Brendan Tobin, 63.

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Susan, has since died and Mr Tobin, who originally moved to Reading in 1985 for work returned to Carbury in County Kildare, in 1999 where he now lives with his second wife Hilary. They live with his second wife’s daughter and his son and daughter by his previous marriage.

The Church of England’s Consistory Court, which has to approve exhumations from consecrated ground, was told that although Mr Tobin had wanted his baby son to be buried in Ireland he had gone along with the wishes of the boy’s mother and they were buried at Tilehurst.

Because the baby was buried in England the decision to move back to Ireland was said to have been a hard one for him to make though over the years he has journeyed back to Reading when possible to visit his baby son’s grave.

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Consistory Court permission for exhumation is extremely rare as the Church’s philosophy is that a last resting place should be just that - unless there has been a mistake about the burial or there are exceptional circumstances.

In this case though David Hodge QC, Chancellor of the Diocese of Oxford, ruled that the circumstances were sufficiently exceptional to enable him to give consent for the exhumation.

In a judgment running to over 4,500 words he said that Mr Tobin’s diagnosis of terminal cancer and the fact no more can be done for him had “crystallised the situation over Alex’s grave” and that it would give Mr Tobin “great peace of mind to bring him home.”

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Granting consent Chancellor Hodge added: “The court is satisfied that the petitioners have established the existence of sufficient special factors which justify treating it as an exception to the norm of the permanence of Christian burial.”

He said that in reaching that decision he had taken into account all the circumstances which included: the sudden and unnatural death of Alex; Mr Tobin’s return to Ireland with his family; the roots they have established at their home in Ireland; lack of family connections in the reading area; the fact Mr Tobin has already purchased a double family burial plot at a church cemetery in Derrinturn, Carbury, where he and Alex can be buried; and the impact of the diagnose that Mr Tobin has terminal cancer.”