POLICE were called to a funeral yesterday after a scuffle broke out between the widow and mother of a Black Watch soldier killed three years ago.
Private Mark Connolly, 24, died in a bar brawl in Germany in 2011 but his body remained in a London mortuary after his mother and wife got embroiled in a protracted legal battle over where he should be buried.
Pte Connolly was killed by a punch thrown by a fellow soldier on a night out. The soldier was charged with manslaughter but cleared at a court martial.
Pte Connolly had previously suffered severe arm injuries and burns in a Taleban bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2009.
His mother, Linda McComiskie, wanted him buried alongside his grandfather in Fife. The court battle between the two women ended last year with a sheriff criticising Mrs McComiskie for having “little regard for the body of her son languishing in storage in London for more than three years”.
Mrs McComiskie always insisted her son wished to be buried in the family lair at MacDuff Cemetery in East Wemyss, Fife.
His widow, Stacy Connolly, insisted he wanted to be laid to rest at a plot earmarked for her in Forfar.
A sheriff ruled that Mrs Connolly had the right to bury him and a full military funeral was held at Newmonthill Cemetery in Forfar yesterday.
A piper played as Pte Connolly’s coffin was carried to the grave by Black Watch comrades but the ceremony was interrupted when Mrs Connolly approached Mrs McComiskie, who shouted: “Don’t you speak to me.” Mrs McComiskie then began shouting at her daughter-in-law, calling her “horrible and despicable” and yelled: “How could you be so cruel?”
As mourners began pushing and jostling, three police officers were forced to intervene.
Tensions rose when Mrs Connolly’s family and friends stood in front of Mrs McComiskie’s relatives at the graveside.
Mrs McComiskie shouted at them: “Scum, you’re all scum. All of you. You all pretending to be Mark’s friends. Look at them, pushing in. Looking at me like I’m shit. I’m Mark’s mother. It’s my son there. I’m not scared of anyone. He’s my son, my boy, mine.
“I hope you’re all proud of yourselves. I know what you’re thinking, that I’m scum, but I’m his mum.”
Earlier, anger spilled over when Mrs Connolly barred Ms McComiskie and a busload of her friends and relatives from entering a ceremony at the Royal British Legion hall, Forfar.Police were posted on the door of the club and in surrounding streets in case of trouble.
Mrs McComiskie, 51, said: “At that last minute she has done this. What is she thinking? She had no right to do this to us. They said it was for friends and family only. Our family is all here – this is his proper family. She will never take away my love for Mark and my memories.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman: said: “Officers were in attendance at the funeral of soldier Mark Connolly and there was a minor altercation that was dealt with sensitively and with respect. No complaint has been received and no arrests made.”