x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Royal hoax nurse's body reaches India

The body of an Indian-born nurse who hanged herself after taking a hoax call to the hospital treating Prince William's wife has arrived in Mangalore following a memorial mass in London.

Jacintha Saldanha's widower Ben Barboza (centre) arrives at the airport to attend the funeral of his wife in Mangalore.
Jacintha Saldanha's widower Ben Barboza (centre) arrives at the airport to attend the funeral of his wife in Mangalore.

MANGALORE, India // The body of an Indian-born nurse who was found hanged after taking a hoax call to the hospital treating Prince William's wife arrived in Mangalore yesterday following a memorial mass in London.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, apparently committed suicide after answering the prank telephone call from two Australian radio DJs to the hospital where Catherine was admitted during the early stages of her pregnancy.

Her funeral is expected to take place on today near Mangalore in Shirva, the hometown of her husband Benedict Barboza. He accompanied her body on the flight to India along with their son, 16, and daughter, 14.

"Jacintha and her family, they were working in the UK to earn their daily bread," said Stany Tauro, priest of the Our Lady of Health Church in Shirva. "The community is sad over the death."

He said locals were proud that she had been a successful nurse who worked in a hospital where the British royal family were treated, but many were shocked at the tragedy.

Rev Tauro said residents would be able to pay final respects to the body before the mass and the burial ceremony.

Saldanha's frail mother lives with her other daughter and a son in Mangalore, 360 kilometres from Bangalore in the western state of Karnataka.

"I feel very sorry that those two kids, they lost their mother's love and affection," said local politician D V Sadananda Gowda after visiting a family relative.

"The government... is seeking an inquiry so that the truth should come out and what the reasons are behind this incident."

Saldanha's body arrived a day after the nurse's children told a service at London's Westminster Cathedral that her death had created "an unfillable void" in their lives.

"We will miss your laughter, the loving memories and the good times we had together. The house is an empty dwelling without your presence," her daughter Lisha said.

A London inquest last week heard that Saldanha, who moved to Britain about 12 years ago, had been found hanged in staff accommodation on December 7 and that there were no suspicious circumstances over her death.

A few days earlier she put the prank call from an Australian radio station through to a colleague who relayed confidential details about Catherine's severe morning sickness to the DJs.

Saldanha left three notes, one of which reportedly criticised her colleagues over her treatment at the King Edward VII private hospital.

The hospital has defended itself, saying it offered support to Saldanha and had stressed to her she would not be disciplined for being taken in by the call.

A report in Britain's Sunday Times newspaper suggested that Saldanha had been involved in a dispute with a colleague at the hospital several weeks before her death, and had been unhappy with the way managers dealt with it.

Dozens of Indian students marched to the British High Commission in New Delhi on Saturday, carrying banners demanding "Justice for Jacintha".

The demonstrators alleged in a statement that "as a person of Indian origin she was isolated, victimised and subjected to harassment by the authorities".

Australian police say death threats have been made against Michael Christian and Mel Greig, the DJs from Sydney's 2Day FM radio station who made the call posing as the Queen and William's father Prince Charles.

The presenters made tearful apologies last week.