A Japanese family are accused of keeping the mummified remains of a relative in a bedroom for six weeks after her death.
Rina Yasutake, 49, a talented artist thought to have attended Cambridge University, was found lying on a mattress in an advanced state of decomposition by North Yorkshire Police.
Officers made the grisly discovering after being tipped off by local pharmacy staff who said the woman’s brother and sister had been buying large amounts of surgical spirits and ‘smelled of dead bodies,’ Scarborough magistrates court was told.
Yoshika Yasutake, 52, her brother Takahiro Yasutake, 47, and their elderly mother Michiko Yasutake, 76, stood before the court accused of preventing the lawful and decent burial of a dead body without lawful excuse.
Yoshika Yasutake, her mother Michiko Yasutake and brother Takahiro Yasutake are accused of keeping the mummified remains of relative Rina Yasutake at their home for six weeks
They spoke through an interpreter to confirm their names and address, a terraced cottage in the historic market town of Helmsley, North Yorkshire, which became the centre of a major police investigation on September 25th last year.
Rina Yasutake, 49, a talented artist thought to have attended Cambridge University, was found lying on a mattress in an advanced state of decomposition by North Yorkshire Police
Their case was sent to York Crown Court where it will be heard in front of a judge on December 2nd. No pleas were entered.
Prosecutor Sarah Tyrer briefly summarised the case for the magistrates, telling the court: ‘On the 25th of September 2018 the police were notified by a member of staff in the pharmacy at Helmsley Surgery Medical Centre that she had grave concerns about excessive quantities of surgical spirit a Japanese couple had been buying.
‘Reference had been made that they were using it for cleansing an individual called Rina Yasutake.
‘The pharmacist noticed – and I quote – that they smelled of dead bodies.
‘Later that same day the police attended the address and in one of the bedrooms at the premises they found the deceased lying on a mattress in an advanced state of decomposition to the point of apparent mummification.
‘It is believed that Rina had been dead for approximately six weeks. Those are the very bare facts of the case, it is an indictable-only matter and should therefore be sent to York Crown Court for trial.’
The Yastutakes’ solicitor Richard Minion said he had no submissions to make and the family were released on unconditional bail.
Chairman of the bench Paul Gregory told the family: ‘You have heard that this court can progress matters no further and we are sending the matter to York Crown Court. Between now and then you are granted unconditional bail.’
The charge they face is an offence under common law which in some cases can be punished by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, an unlimited fine or both.
Tributes were paid to Ms Yasutake following the discovery of her body last year.
Former classmate Sarah Matthews said she attended the independent Queen Mary’s boarding school for girls on the Duncombe Park estate near Helmsley with Rina from September 1980 to July 1986.
They spoke through an interpreter to confirm their names and address, a terraced cottage in the historic market town of Helmsley, North Yorkshire (pictured), which became the centre of a major police investigation on September 25th last year
She said: ‘I shared a dormitory for two years with Rina and another pupil. Rina was a very hard-working teenager with a bright academic future, she was an amazing artist and a lovely girl.
‘She was quiet and studious, but she did have a good sense of humour. She participated in all aspects of school life. I am so shocked and saddened by her death.’
Ms Matthews said that Rina was highly academic at school and won a scholarship in 1986 to sixth form at Wycombe Abbey School in Buckinghamshire in the subjects of history, English, Latin and Greek.
Ms Matthews said she believed that, after Wycombe Abbey, Rina attended Cambridge University.
Rina and her family lived in Nunnington, North Yorkshire, before moving to Helmsley in 1998, she added.