The body of an elderly woman that was taken from a plane in Gatwick Airport and unofficially driven to Co Kerry by her son for burial is thought to be back in the UK.
Gardai believe the woman's body may have been driven to the UK via Northern Ireland by her son after he was warned by a coroner that if he did not bury the body it would be confiscated and put in cold storage at his expense.
The matter came to light when Kerry Coroner Terence Casey was contacted by the gardai after the landlord of a rented house in Kenmare reported there was a dead body lying in repose there.
"The man had contacted his landlord saying he would have to break the terms of his lease because his mother had taken ill in Malta," Mr Casey told the Irish Independent. "When the landlord called to the house to clean it, he met the man who told him his mother was lying in repose upstairs if he wanted to pay his respects."
The landlord then notified the gardai that there was a dead body in the house. Gardai contacted the coroner, who served a notice on him on October 25 that if he did not bury his mother the body would be confiscated and put in cold storage art his expense.
When gardai called to the house a number of days later to see if the man had complied with the coroner's request there was no trace of the body or him.
"There had not been hair or trace or him ever since and we don't know what he did with the body," Mr Casey said.
He added that his concern was that the body would have begun to decompose, even though it had been embalmed, and would pose a threat to public health.
The woman had died in Malta in September and her body was repatriated to the UK. Mr Casey said her body had been collected at Gatwick Airport by her son, who then drove it to Ireland in his car without contacting the authorities.
"You are supposed to notify the authorities, you cannot just bring a body into the country, and this was not authorised. I checked the paperwork into the UK and this was in order, and I gave the relative an ultimatum that he organise a burial or I would confiscate the body," Mr Casey said.
He also said that because the body was no longer believed to be in Kerry, the matter had moved outside his jurisdiction.
The woman and her relative are understood to be originally from the UK but had been living in Kenmare for some time.
Two separate funeral directors in Kenmare confirmed they had not been approached to make funeral arrangements.