A GRIEVING Newport mum says she has had her heartbreak worsened by the council’s treatment of her baby son’s grave.

Elisha Iles gave birth to twins Thomas and Oliver Court on May 2 - 15 weeks early due to complications. Thomas died a week later.

Thomas was buried at Torfaen Council’s Llwyncelyn Cemetery in Cwmbran on June 9 and since then, Ms Iles and her partner Terry Court say the way they have been treated by Torfaen Council – all while still having young Oliver in hospital - has made the suffering worse. 

South Wales Argus:

Ms Iles said: “We have been spending £40-50 on flowers each week only for them to be ripped up because there is a squirrel problem in the cemetery. So, we placed some windmills down and were told they had to be taken away as they ‘disturb the peace’.

“We were also told that his headstone has to be removed because it is ‘hazardous’ to their maintenance staff but they won’t tell us why it is.

“Because we have the top of it in the shape of a teddy bear, we asked if that was the reason and they said no. Then they said for us to get a cross one, but he’s a baby…

“We have managed to get them to let us keep the headstone as it is a temporary one while the ground settles.”

South Wales Argus:

Ms Iles said she was shocked to find that, after asking for a couple of small trees in the hedgerow – which Thomas' grave was dug next to – to be moved back so that they don’t damage the headstone when they grow, the council agreed - but following this, Ms Iles found that the trees were still there and Thomas’ headstone had instead been moved forward.


“When a new grave is dug, the ground sinks and you can see where the headstone has been moved forward," she said. "The council said they wanted to put it in line with the neighbouring grave, but they dug the grave, and it isn’t in line and if they did put it in line, it would disrupt the row in front.

“I was sent a letter with what can and cannot be put on a grave and one of the things they say cannot be done is the planting of trees because they will grow and disturb the memorials, yet they have planted small trees right by Thomas’ grave.”

While the arrival of babies is often a happy time, Thomas and Oliver's birth was, as Ms Iles put it, "brutal". The couple were told there was a high chance of losing one or both of the babies, as Ms Iles had to meet with specialists at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol for scans twice a week.

At around the 23-week mark, she had the amniocentesis procedure – where it was seen that Oliver had 11.5cm of fluid around him and Thomas had 0.8cm. During the procedure three and a half litres of fluid was removed.

Ms Iles’ contractions started after the procedure at 23 weeks. She was admitted to hospital and was sent home 24 hours later after the contractions were stopped following tests and the administering of drugs.

It was good news on the next scan, the twins were improving, and everything was looking better. However, two weeks later, her contractions began again, and she noticed she was bleeding. On arrival at St Michael’s her contractions worsened and 15 minutes later, the doctor could see both boy’s necks and Ms Iles was rushed for a C-section.

Thomas was born on May 2 at 9.52pm weighing 13oz, followed by his brother Oliver a minute later. He weighed 1lb 13oz. Both boys had to be resuscitated and were admitted to the NICU.

A week later Thomas died and there is an ongoing investigation into the circumstances.

“Even though we were grieving, we had to stay strong for Oliver,” said Ms Iles. When Oliver was three weeks old, he was transferred to the Grange University Hospital - and is still there three months later.

“Oliver has had a very rough time. He has had many infections, blood clots, a bleed on the brain, two collapsed lungs, blood transfusions, steroids, cannulas and a PDA.

“He is still fighting. 102 days we have been here, we are finally out of intensive care and into the nursery. He will be discharged with oxygen because they say he has chronic lung disease.

“The nurses and doctors have been amazing with him; we can’t thank them enough.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The council would like to extend condolences to the family on their loss, and understand that this has been a very difficult time for the family. We will continue to work with the family related to their concerns.”