Man fined $5000 for leaving stillborn baby on car roof
THE mother of a stillborn baby who was left on the roof of a funeral vehicle has described the incident as "something nightmares were made of".
Maroochydore Magistrates Court heard her victim impact statement today before funeral vehicle driver Richard John Bertrand was convicted and fined $5000.
Bertrand, 59, placed the stillborn baby on the roof of the van on November 28 last year as he and another driver transferred bodies between vehicles bound for different locations.
The baby's corpse was found by road workers on the side of Eumundi Noosa Rd at Verrierdale.
Pronounced deceased by a doctor at Rockhampton Hospital, the baby was to be transferred to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital for a post-mortem examination.
Police prosecutor David Bradley read the mother's victim impact statement.
The mother said just when the family thought their grief couldn't get any worse, they received a call from Queensland Health requesting to visit their home.
"'My mother sat beside me me and my partner, we were told something that nightmares were made of'," Sen Sgt Bradley said.
"As the the day went on and more details emerged, the one thing that specifically stuck in my mind was our son lies 500km away on the side of the road for hours in the middle of the night.
"'Even though he was not alive he was still our precious baby boy and his family loved him'."
Bertrand, who owns Queensland Funeral Transfers, pleaded guilty to misconduct with regard to corpses.
Sen Sgt Bradley said the guilty plea came late as a trial was set to go ahead, and witnesses to give evidence, on the day.
The court heard Bertrand had owned his business since 2009, having completed more than 4000 transfers of corpses.
Magistrate Graham Hillan said the incident was not an act of violence but a breach of duty.
"It's one of the most appalling cases I've had to deal with. I've never had one, but this to me is one of the most appalling cases I've come across to sentence someone of," Mr Hillan said.
Mr Hillan said he considered the victim impact statement and photographs.
"They've suffered a hell of a lot of agony already, then to have this on top..." he said.
Mr Hillan also considered that Bertrand made "full and frank" admissions to the authorities, and that he had reached out to Queensland Health in an attempt to offer an apology to the family.
"You made an incredible error... you were quite upset and shocked at the actions that happened on that day," he said.
Mr Hillan said although the prosecution made submissions that a term of imprisonment might be appropriate, he opted for a "hefty" monetary penalty.
In what he described as the most difficult penalty he has had to determine, Mr Hillan fined Bertrand $5000 with no conviction recorded.