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Mum gets court summons for dead daughter

PUBLISHED: 20:46 26 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:10 03 March 2010

A DISTRAUGHT mother was "sickened" when she received a court summons for a daughter who died ten years ago.

Two weeks later, still reeling from the shock, Carol Purnell received another letter threatening her dead daughter's arrest for failing to appear.

A DISTRAUGHT mother was "sickened" when she received a court summons for a daughter who died ten years ago.

Two weeks later, still reeling from the shock, Carol Purnell received another letter threatening her dead daughter's arrest for failing to appear.

Carol Purnell, from Byron Road, could not have dreamt a worse way to commemorate the ten years since her daughter Andrea's death, which will be marked in August.

Now she is demanding an apology from South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court and a guarantee the devastating bungle won't happen again.

She said: "I simply cannot understand how my daughter's name got in the court system.

"I was sickened to my stomach when I received the letter. As it is this time of year is especially difficult for us. Andrea's birthday was in July and she died at the beginning of August."

At the end of May, Mrs Purnell received the first letter addressed to Andrea formerly of Piper Court, who died of a heroin overdose, Mrs Purnell's name appears in the court's computer because she pays fines for her juvenile son.

"The letter was warning Andrea that if she didn't pay court costs relating to my son she would have to appear in court.

"I simply cannot understand where they got Andrea's name from. She didn't even live at the same address."

Mrs Purnell received an apology from the court, the promise of an investigation into the mistake, and the guarantee it wouldn't happen again.

But this week Mrs Purnell received a letter saying because her daughter failed to attend court, a warrant would be issued for her arrest.

She said: "I felt ten times worse after I had been to court to complain. It was as if they were blaming my daughter for not being able to make it. I just want to know where they got my daughter's name from. I don't think it can be malicious but I can't understand how it happened twice."

Director of legal services at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, Chris Bowler, apologised for the mistake and gave his assurance it wouldn't happen again.

He said: "It appears the initial mistake was made by the court clerk in entering Andrea's rather than her mother's name for the payment of compensation. We don't know why this happened, I imagine it was just a dreadful coincidence. Even though we corrected the name on our records, we failed to change it on the computer which is why the summons was sent out. We apologise and the mistake is now rectified."

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