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Rings ‘stolen’ from dying woman, 94 - widow would have been ‘devastated’ by loss

07:00 06 June 2014

Bertha Guymer

Bertha Guymer


A 94-year-old woman who died at Queen’s Hospital without the wedding and engagement rings from her RAF sweetheart would have been “devastated” to have been without them, her bereaved daughter said.

Pat NichollsPat Nicholls

Bertha Guymer, of Hornchurch, had never removed the rings on her finger in the 74 years since she married the late Robert while he was on leave during the Second World War.

Her family fear the rings were stolen as she lay dying in Queen’s Hospital while the trust, which runs the Rom Valley Way building, could not account for the “loss” despite an investigation.

Daughter Pat Nicholls, 71, of Hedingham Road, Hornchurch, said: “If she knew she had died without the rings on her fingers, she would be absolutely devastated about it.”

She said, if stolen, the jewellery would have been taken with “a lot of force” from her mother’s fingers, severely swollen with arthritis, sometime between her admission to hospital on May 8 and her death from “old age” two days later.

The stolen ringsThe stolen rings

An “extensive” but failed investigation into the missing rings was carried out by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust.

Sgt Stuart Mitchell, of Havering Police, said an investigation into a “report of theft” had been concluded and anyone with information should contact him on 101.

Mrs Nicholls’ son Robert, 50, of Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, said the rings could not have fallen off as his “wonderful” grandmother’s fingers due to her arthritis.

“Mum held her hand in the ambulance to reassure her so she knew she had the rings on her hand then,” he said. “And grandad passed away 10 years ago, she would never take them off. It was the only thing she had left of him and she doted on him.”

Mrs Nicholls added the theft would have been when she was either dead or dying.”

Judith Douglas, deputy nursing chief for the trust, said: “We’re sorry to hear of Mrs Guymer’s family’s complaint and I fully appreciate just how distressing the loss of this jewellery must be for them.

We have carried out an extensive investigation but to no avail and I can only apologise unreservedly to the family for that.

“I will happily meet with the family to discuss their concerns further.”

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