A hearse could be the ultimate destination for humans. But to be chased by one should be an eerie feeling. After some anxious moments, an Australian woman has managed to have an undertaker-stalker off the roads for two years. The man has also been placed on a good behaviour bond.
The obsessed undertaker had pursued his victim in his hearse after a Rotary Christmas party, a Sydney court was told Thursday.
AdvertisementAdam James Lee, proprietor of Sydney's Caring Funerals, was stopped by police in the early hours of December 14, 2004, after Maureen Wyer reported he had been following her.
When Wyer cut Lee off in her car in Surry Hills, the 37-year-old tailed her in his hearse through two Sydney suburbs, at one point pulling up alongside her and slamming his fist against the side of her vehicle.
Lee also swerved into s Wyer's path in an attempt to block her way, forcing her to mount a nearby median strip.
After he was stopped by police, Lee blamed a fellow funeral home employee, saying he was behind the wheel of the hearse.
Lee was convicted in December 2007 of driving in a menacing fashion, under the influence of alcohol and whilst disqualified.
Magistrate Christine Haskett, in sentencing Lee, placed him on an 18-month good behaviour bond and ordered him to pay almost $700 in fines and court costs.
"Ms Wyer was clearly afraid that the defendant was going to get out of his car," Ms Haskett told Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court.
"She was distressed ... and yelled at the police to help her.
"She had grave fears for her safety and was in fear that her life was at risk."
Lee's lawyer Roland Bonnici described the career mortician as a "Jekyll and Hyde" character, who used alcohol to self-medicate his deep depression.
He became estranged from his father after setting up a rival funeral business, and his mental health deteriorated after fraud charges were laid over a wrongful cremation.
Lee was last month fined $15,000 for mistakenly burying one body and cremating another, and sending bills to the families.
Bonnici said the matter, in which he had lodged an appeal, had been "hanging over" Lee's head for several years, driving him to drink.
"It's a bit like a Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde," Mr Bonnici said.
"The good side of this man really is with him in many ways ... if you take the alcohol and depression away."
Police prosecutor Paul McGirr agreed that when he was sober, Lee was a "model citizen".
Lee has a history of high-range drink driving, dangerous driving, and getting behind the wheel without a licence.
He was cleared of a number of traffic offences in 2005, successfully arguing that he was mentally ill.
Lee attempted to do so again on Thursday, but Ms Haskett found the offences were too serious to be dealt with in such a manner.
"Given the terrifying ordeal that (Ms Wyer) experienced, it's my view that the defendant should be dealt with in accordance to the law," she said.
The magistrate ordered Lee undergo psychiatric treatment, alcohol counselling and undertake a sober driver program as a condition of his bond.