A TOP church judge has given a grieving widow the go-ahead to grant the dying wish of her paralysed husband who died two-and-a-half years ago.

After years of paralysis William Bartram’s one wish was that death would set him free from his misery and that he could rise above his paralysis. But even in death he was trapped. His ashes were buried despite his plea that they be scattered in the open to finally free him from his “earthly bonds of misery”.

His widow, Dorothy, has won the rare right from the judge, Charles Mynors, Chancellor of the Diocese of Worcester, to exhume the ashes ad fulfil her husband’s final wish for freedom.

In a Consistory Court (Church of England court) ruling, the judge set aside the usual rule that remains buried in consecrated ground must remain there for eternity. He gave the go-ahead for Mrs Bartram to have them dug up from Bromsgrove Cemetery so that her husband’s last wish could be realised.

In a recently published decision the judge held that at the time Mr Bartram’s ashes were buried his widow was not aware of the church rules that burials on consecrated ground should be final. In those circumstances he said he was able to grant her wishes.

Mrs Bartram went against her husband’s dying wishes because she was so grief stricken at the time of his death she could not bear the thought of no permanent place to visit his remains.

However, in a heart rending letter to the judge she says was “selfish” and feels “extremely guilty and saddened that I did not carry out his final wishes - to be free at last”.

In his ruling, the judge recited the letter from Mrs Bartram which read: "My husband, Walter Bartram, was paralysed and confined to a wheelchair for the last 15 years of his life, due to a tragic accident. During this time he endured a life of severe restriction and immobility.

"Throughout these years, he longed to be free and he passed on to me his wishes that, when he died, he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered so at last he could be free.

"When he died, I was so consumed with grief and loneliness that I made the decision to have his remains interred, so I would have somewhere to visit him and feel close to him, which I now realise was very selfish of me.

"Now, after time, I feel extremely guilty and saddened that I did not carry out his final wishes - to be free at last - and I would therefore like to rectify this."

Granting permission, the judge said: "The normal rule is that burial in consecrated land is permanent, and that a faculty will only exceptionally be granted for exhumation.

"I have come to the conclusion that Mrs Bartram's explicit statement that she was not made aware that the cemetery was consecrated, coupled with her strong feeling, entirely understandable, that she had done the wrong thing in having her husband's ashes buried, together constitute a set of circumstances such that this case should be treated as an exception."