A businesswoman was horrified to find her sister's grave covered in earth from a freshly-dug burial hole.

Anna Ward discovered the mound of soil, left by gravediggers preparing an adjacent plot, on her sister Kate Ward's grave at Hounslow Cemetery, in Hounslow Road, Hanworth, on Sunday (August 10).

When she complained she claims she was told the funeral at the neighbouring grave had taken place six days earlier last Monday (August 4), leaving plenty of time for the earth to have been cleared.

She added that her niece had only recently planted flowers at the grave to mark the ninth anniversary of her mother's death on June 21, 2005, and they had been planning to visit the site with Kate's 76-year-old father.

"We only went down there to make a few tweaks so it was ready for my dad's visit and we arrived to find that horror," said Anna, who runs a music industry transportation firm.

Kate Ward's grave as it looked after it was recently decorated with flowers by her family
 

"Kate's grave has been vandalised a couple of times in the past few years but to see the mess left by the people who are supposed to be maintaining it was shocking beyond all belief."

Kate Ward, who lived in London Road, Isleworth, was 35 when she was killed after her bike was dragged under a lorry near Hounslow Bus Garage.

The beauty therapist, who had two daughters, was on her way to a yoga lesson at the time of the collision.

A spokesman for Carillion, which manages the cemetery on behalf of Hounslow Council, said: "We would like to apologise to Mrs Ward and her family for any upset we may have caused.

"While our staff where acting within the regulations governing the management of cemeteries, we accept that on this occasion our actions did not meet our normal high standards.

"When a grave is being opened next to existing graves the soil that is removed should be placed on boards, close to the grave, and carefully contained until the grave is re-filled. This can be challenging when operating in a very confined environment like Hounslow Cemetery.

"We have reviewed Mrs Ward's complaint and a senior member of our staff has spoken to her to apologise directly and has undertaken to restore her sister's grave to its previous condition."

Kate Ward, who was killed in a collision in Hounslow in 2005
Anna Ward, who says she was horrified to find the state in which her sister Kate's grave at Hounslow Cemetery had been left
Rubble dumped on the grave of Kate Ward, the cross for which is behind the wooden board, at Hounslow Cemetery