A dying woman had a treasured diamond ring stolen from her finger in the final moments of her life at a hospice.
The gold band was taken from Wendy Dolton's hand as she lay powerless in her bed.
Hours later, the 65-year-old lost her battle with cancer.
The ring was given to Mrs Dolton by her husband to celebrate her 40th wedding anniversary. It was the last gift he gave her before he died nine years ago.
Her son Sean, 46, said: "It's a violation of morality that is just unbelievable. I'm speechless. Whoever did this is absolute scum.
"I saw her at about 6pm on the Wednesday and she had it on and she died at around 5pm on the Thursday. I feel sick to know that someone could do that in the last hours of her life.
"It's not just any ring. It was a 40th anniversary present from my father in the last months of his life, so the value is hugely sentimental.
"The fact that someone could do that to someone when they are at their most vulnerable is unbelievable. She would have been lying there and unable to do anything."
Wendy Dolton and her husband Malcolm taken on the day on which he had presented her with the diamond ring
The theft took place at the Pilgrim’s Hospice in Canterbury, Kent, between 6pm on February 13 and 6pm the following day.
The chief executive of Pilgrim's Hospice, Steve Auty, said: "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."
He said that there was no evidence to suggest any members of staff were implicated in the theft.
Pc Chris Poulter, of Kent Police, who is investigating the theft, 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 inquiries."
Anyone with information about the theft of the ring, described as a gold band with a large square diamond, is asked to call Kent Police on 101.