Plot to rob Cilla Black's home during her funeral thwarted
A plot to burgle the Buckinghamshire home of entertainer Cilla Black during her funeral has been foiled.
A professionally cut circular hole was discovered in the chain-link perimeter fence of her Denham home yesterday ahead of her funeral next week, her former publicist said.
The discovery was made as Black's three sons - Ben, Robert and Jack - gathered for their mother's inquest in Liverpool.
Robert Willis, her eldest son, said: "I cannot believe someone would stoop so low at a time like this. It's inconceivable. Thankfully, it was discovered in time."
The police have been informed and 24-hour security has been increased around the property.
All valuable assets including art, jewellery and personal items have been removed and taken to a secured unit at an unknown location.
Black's former publicist Nick Fiveash said: "It looks as if they have been preparing to burgle the house during the funeral.
"The hole in the chain-link fence was cut in a very secluded place and it was not there before.
"It's a difficult time, today was the inquest and next will be the funeral. Her sons have been really brave and dignified and are carrying on for their mum."
Liverpool Coroner's Court heard Black died from a "traumatic" head injury following a fall at her home in Spain.
Coroner Andre Rebello recorded a verdict of accidental death.
During the hearing Mr Rebello paid tribute to the singer and TV presenter, describing her as a "daughter of Liverpool".
He referred to Black using her real name, Priscilla Maria Veronica Willis, and in conclusion said the medical cause of death was a traumatic head injury caused by the fall.
Addressing her sons, he added: "She was your mum and her death is a private, personal matter and we have all got one mum.
"It is right that you grieve and remember her."
Mr Rebello continued: "Far more important is that you celebrate her life, but your mum was far more than just your mum.
"She was a daughter of Liverpool and she was a celebrity and loved by all in Liverpool, and that will be part of her abiding memory and memorial.
"But you will have personal, private memories of her as mum.
"It is those memories of the ordinary things she did, normal family events, the love shared and the love given, that must be her abiding memory, not just for this generation, but for each born in the future."
Earlier, Mr Rebello confirmed details of the circumstances of Black's death following the investigation by medical and legal authorities in Spain.
Black's sons left without commenting to reporters after the hearing finished. Their father, Bobby Willis died in 1999.