Wife of missing Brian Hynard urges change in the lawBy Victoria Smith
August 28, 2012
A devastated wife is calling for a change in the law to speed up the process of declaring her missing husband as dead.
Stephanie Hynard is convinced her husband Brian, 58, took his own life in March last year, but his body has never been found.
Banks and insurance companies will not recognise teacher Brian as dead for seven years. This has left Stephanie in a legal limbo, unable to sell the couple’s home, and forced her out of retirement so she can keep up with bills.
Despite the presence of a suicide note at their home in Fox Covert Close, Sunninghill, the missing person investigation remains open.
Stephanie, 64, a teacher for children with additional needs, said: “I thought they would carry out the search and say we have explored all avenues and there is no tangible trace, therefore he is missing, presumed dead.”
Brian suffered from a painful back condition that left him unable to do sports, such as mountain climbing, or concentrate during simple acts such as watching TV for more than 15 minutes. The couple had discussed going to assisted suicide centre Dignitas in Switzerland. However, despite being in constant agony Brian was not a candidate for the service.
A silver Honda CRV belonging to Brian was found near woodland in Box Hill, Surrey, three weeks after he went missing. Stephanie made an application to the coroner’s court last year, for which she had to employ a solicitor, to declare her partner of 37 years dead.
“Their response was they needed a report from the police,” she said. “They wanted to know whether my husband’s car was found in an environment that may lead one to believe he had taken his own life, such as near a quarry, but police said they couldn’t supply that information because it was subjective.”
Stephanie now faces not only her ongoing grief at the loss of her husband, who she married five years ago when his condition worsened, but a financial struggle.
Her husband’s pension and the couple’s joint bank accounts have been frozen.
Stephanie believes high profile cases such as canoe man John Darwin, who was jailed after faking his own death and pocketing life insurance cash, make authorities more suspicious.
The Missing People charity described the present system for declaring missing relatives dead as ‘convoluted’.
A new presumption of death law for England and Wales won support from the Ministry of Justice last month. A bill is expected to be launched in the autumn.
However the Association of British Insurers has warned that it fears legislation could tempt more people to commit fraud.