Undertaker who drove off with stillborn baby on roof of van fined



 An undertaker drove with a stillborn baby's body on the roof of his van.  Richard John Bertrand, 59, was fined $5,000 AUD, around £2,700, for his "total neglect" in what magistrates said was “one of the most appalling cases" of neglect they’d heard of  After the incident, road workers nearby  found the remains of the tragic infant  Bertrand, from Rockhampton in Queensland, Australia, admitted misconduct with regard to a corpse last November but had no conviction recorded, according to ABC news  The Maroochydore Magistrates Court heard Mr Bertrand was transporting bodies from Rockhampton to Brisbane when he stopped for a van changeover at Verrierdale on the Sunshine Coast  It was then he left the baby's body in a capsule on top of his transport van, and it fell onto a road and was later found by road workers, the news station reports    The heartbroken parents of the stillborn baby described their "unfathomable grief" in court  In a victim impact statement read to the court by police, the baby's mother said her family was "only just holding our heads above the water after the loss of our beautiful son"  It continued: “He had tiny little hands and little feet and his face resembled that of his older sister … I laboured through the whole night with him and at only 23 weeks gestation we were told he would not make it  "From the moment he was born we looked at him, we held him and we loved him."  The Rockhampton mother said that after such a traumatic birth, she and her partner could not take their "precious" son home because an autopsy was required  "We were hesitant to leave him but we were reassured he would be cared for until he was returned to us," she said  "Just when we didn't think our grief could get any worse we received a call from Queensland Health advising that officials would visit our home, and that something had gone wrong with our son's transport to Brisbane    "We were told something that nightmares were made of."  The news channel reports the undertaker told police he was unaware of the problem until he arrived in Brisbane  The court heard Mr Bertrand normally put the bodies of infants onto the upper stretchers of his van, but on this particular night a coffin with an unusually large floral arrangement had taken up the upper rows, so he set the stillborn boy's capsule aside as he was changing vans  The court was told Mr Bertrand contacted Queensland Health to provide an apology to the family, but never heard back  Defence barrister Bernard Reilly said witnesses described the 59-year-old's behaviour as "out of character for a prudent professional" and that he was usually "almost pedantic" in his attention to detail  The defence barrister told the court Mr Bertrand had 12 years' experience in the funeral industry, and those who spoke to him after the incident said he seemed "quite upset and in shock"  Magistrate Graham Hillan described the undertaker's actions, while not deliberate, as "appalling neglect" that needed to be punished  Detective Sergeant Paul Reilly said the sentence was "a good result" and that the investigation had been "very trying for all involved, particularly the family"

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