Police are investigating the theft of a gold and diamond ring from a widow as she lay dying in a hospital bed.
Cancer victim Wendy Dolton, 65, was just hours from death when the sentimental gold band – a gift from her late husband Malcolm – went missing from her finger.
Detectives believe it was stolen between 6pm on February 13 and 6pm the following day when Mrs. Dolton died at Pilgrim’s Hospice, in Canterbury, Kent.
Her son Sean Dolton, 46, said: “She was totally violated when she was at her weakest.
“It is the most vile and despicable crime – to think that someone would come into her room where she was being cared for and take the ring from her finger.
“I remember seeing her wearing it just hours before and can’t believe someone stole it from her in those last few hours.
“We lost my mum at 5pm and were in the hospice until midnight trying to get to the bottom of where it had gone.
“It is difficult enough to deal with losing her so tragically, but to know how and when it was taken is very difficult.”
Sean, who works for West Essex Fire Service, added: “The ring also had a large square diamond and was very special to my mother and I would never have sold it.
“She’d always hoped I’d one day give it to someone special.
“My father gave Mum the ring on their 40th wedding anniversary in 2004 and found out shortly after that he had been diagnosed with cancer – he died not long after that.
“She treasured it – it is totally unforgivable how it was taken. It is totally and utterly priceless and I desperately want it back.”
Chief executive of Pilgrims Hospices Steve Auty said: “I am currently carrying out an investigation into the alleged theft of a ring from a patient.
“So far there is no evidence of any staff member being involved. The police are also investigating the matter.”
Kent Pc Chris Poulter said: “The theft of the ring has caused a great deal of upset for Wendy’s family at a time when they are already trying to cope with her sad passing.
“Pilgrim’s Hospice has been fully co-operative and our investigation continues. We have already visited some second-hand shops and will continue to make enquiries.”
Mrs. Dolton, of Dover, Kent, had two sons, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Chief Executive of Pilgrims Hospices Steve Auty yesterday (Thurs) said: “We are all shocked and saddened by this whole episode.
“Pilgrims Hospices is co-operating fully with the police and I am leading our own internal investigation.
“We are not aware of an incident like this occurring in our three hospices at any time in our 30 plus years history.
“Clearly it is not a situation that we want to occur in our hospices and especially not at such a difficult time for the family members concerned.
“Mrs Dolton’s family are, understandably, deeply upset by what has occurred.
“I have spoken at length with Mrs Dolton’s son, Sean, and assured him we are doing whatever we can to find out what happened.
“We have no evidence to suggest any members of staff are implicated.
“Patients and families receive love and care from our staff and volunteers when staying with us.
“That remains our primary focus which we are able to deliver because of the outstanding level of support we get from the people of east Kent.”