THE wife of a tragic Black Watch soldier has won the right to bury him after he lay in a morgue for three years as a bitter legal battle between her and his mother raged.
Private Mark Connolly, 24, died after fellow squaddie Paul McKay, 27, decked him with a single punch at a pub in Germany where they were stationed.
Private McKay was later cleared of manslaughter after a court martial heard he acted in self-defence.
But three years on Mark’s body remains in a morgue in London after a rift between his wife Stacy Connolly and his mother Linda McComiskie erupted with both sides determined to bury him in different places.
Now he will be laid to rest in Forfar, Angus, after wife Stacy won a lengthy court case against Ms McComiskie.
A three-day civil proof at Forfar Sheriff Court heard Private Connolly’s mother, Linda, describing Stacy as being “jealous” of her “close” relationship with Mark.
The 50-year-old said that when Mark had been injured during a tour of Afghanistan Stacy hadn’t informed them - and that her family had tried to “dictate” funeral arrangements to them when he died.
And she claimed Mark had told his grandmother that he wanted to be buried beside his grandfather in Fife.
But Stacy said he wanted to be buried alongside his wife when she eventually passes away - and that she will be laid to rest in Forfar.
She wants to bury him in a “colourful” service in the Angus town.
Stacy insists Mark named her executor in his will after their wedding in February 2009, but changed it after a senior officer wrongly told him he couldn’t.
The 29-year-old widow said: “I’m here to carry out my husband’s wishes. We’re talking about who has the right to bury him and who decides where and how it happens.”
But Linda hit back and said she believed he should be buried at the cemetery less than a mile from her home in Methil.
She said: “There was always a strange distance between me and Stacy.
“When he was injured in Afghanistan he was flown to Sellyoak in Birmingham for treatment.
“I thought Stacy would have phoned to tell me about that but I got it from a visiting Army officer instead.
“He said Mark had been transferred to England and I asked him why Stacy didn’t phone me up.”
Recounting the days after Mark’s death, she said: “A couple of weeks later my partner Les called up Stacy and her mum said to him that there were funeral arrangements.
“Her mum basically dictated to us that you will wear colourful clothes and not black, and that he’d be buried in Forfar.
“I phoned back up and said they will not tell me what to wear to my own son’s funeral.”
Linda said she and Stacy - who wiped away tears as the evidence was led - eventually met to discuss arrangements - with Stacy “begging” to have a funeral and burial in Forfar.
But Linda said: “She was crying and begging me - I did feel bad.
“But I said it wasn’t what Mark wanted.
“I said they can have a service in Forfar but he has to come back to Fife to be buried with his grandfather.
“All his family are there - he doesn’t have a family in Forfar.”
Linda’s lawyer, Tony Anderson, told the court that Stacy was the “lone voice” in support of a Forfar burial.
But, Susie Clark, for Stacy Connolly, said: “A chasm of ill feeling had sprung between the parties since Mark’s death three years ago.”