Undertaker's charge downgraded over rooftop corpse
AN undertaker potentially faces a shorter term of imprisonment for misconduct with a corpse after a baby's body fell off the roof of a vehicle he was allegedly driving near Eumundi last year.
Richard John Bertrand, of Gracemere in Central Queensland, was present in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court this morning as prosecutor Nichale Bool offered no evidence on the more serious charge under section 236 of the Criminal Code, which carries a maximum five years' imprisonment and must be dealt with in District Court.
Mr Bertrand was formally charged with the replacement offence under another section 236 of the Criminal Code.
"That on the 28 of November, 2018 at Verrierdale you without lawful justification or excuse, neglected to safely transport human remains which is a duty undertaking to be performed by you," Magistrate Matthew McLaughlin read.
The replacement charge carries a maximum two years' imprisonment, and can be dealt with in the magistrates court.
Mr Bertrand did not enter a plea today, nor was he required to.
Mr Bertrand was charged with misconduct with a corpse by interfering after Sunshine Coast workers found a deceased infant's body on the roadside on November28.
It had allegedly fallen from the moving vehicle while in transit from Rockhampton to a Brisbane morgue after Mr Bertrand and another driver stopped in Eumundi and transferred bodies between vehicles bound for different locations.
Ms Bool told the court the facts of the replacement charge remained the same as those of the initial charge.
Mr Bertrand was granted bail and his matter will return to court on April 29.
During proceedings Magistrate McLaughlin confirmed Mr Bertrand's occupation as an undertaker with his lawyer, Evan Cooper, as he said he had never encountered the charges before.
"I am trying to imagine what circumstances the charge could apply other than that," he said.