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Mourners gather for Heath Ledger funeral in Perth

world Updated: Feb 09, 2008 09:59 IST

AFP
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Mourners began gathering on Saturday for Hollywood star Heath Ledger's funeral in his hometown of Perth, an AFP photographer at the scene reported.

The actor's ex-girlfriend, supermodel Gemma Ward, was among the first to arrive at the private funeral for Ledger, who was found dead in his New York apartment on January 22, the photographer said.

Shortly before the funeral at an exclusive girls' school, Ledger's father Kim appealed for a massive media pack that was staking out the family home in Perth to respect the privacy of the actor's grieving relatives.

"It's a pretty sad time and we are finding it difficult to cope by ourselves," Ledger told reporters. "The funeral will be very, very
private and there will only be 10 people there, immediate family and nobody else."

Ledger said the family appreciated the massive outpouring of grief from the public over his son's death, and the support they had received from family and friends.

Ledger's family arrived in Perth earlier this week after two weeks in the United States, where they held a Hollywood memorial service in Los Angeles, a private family service in New York and visited his Manhattan residence.

Ledger was seen as a rising star in Hollywood and his death sent shockwaves through the film industry. His memorial service drew an A-list of mourners including Tom Cruise and wife Katie Holmes.

The New York chief medical examiner's office on Wednesday released a toxicology report showing the 28-year-old died of accidental intoxication caused by a cocktail of painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs.

Ledger's former fiancee Michelle Williams arrived in the western Australian city of Perth with the couple's two-year-old daughter Matilda this week for the funeral.

Jake Gyllenhaal, who co-starred with Ledger in the critically-acclaimed gay cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain" was this week reported to be planning to attend the funeral but has not yet been seen in Perth.