Ice addict punished for mistreating corpse
By Andrew Drummond, AAP
October 22, 2010, 4:40 pm
A Sydney ice addict has become the first person in more than 150 years to be sentenced by a NSW court for the "unusual" offence of offering indignity to a dead human body.
Since 1857, when an offender was penalised one shilling, the punishment has increased to a maximum two-year jail sentence, Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court was told on Friday.
Chady Wazir, 31, who pleaded guilty to the crime, avoided a custodial sentence, but on Friday was ordered to be of good behaviour for 18 months for his "reprehensible" actions.
High on drugs and alcohol, Wazir was chasing another hit in the early hours of April 20, 2006, when he entered the unlocked Darlinghurst home of Joyce Germain, 59.
In the bathroom, he found her dead body and "lost control", Magistrate David Heilpern said on Friday, adding that "she had a cord around her neck and had obviously suffered fatal injuries".
"He started screaming out loud, he threw items around the bathroom area such as blankets, clothes, pencils, lipstick and containers," Mr Heilpern said.
Wazir then remained in the property looking for drugs.
Ms Germain's body was found again days later, with the cord of an iron wrapped loosely around her neck.
"Her nightie was pulled up around her neck, a hard hat was found on her stomach and a foot spa was located on her left breast," Mr Heilpern said.
There was no evidence before the court that Wazir was responsible for placing the items on Ms Germain's body, but he pleaded guilty to offering indignity to her body, in that he threw objects around the bathroom.
During submissions to the court on Friday, Mr Heilpern was told by both prosecution and defence solicitors that the only sentencing reference to the charge of "misconduct with a corpse - did offer indignity to a dead human body", dated back to 1857.
Details of the historic case were not provided, only that the penalty was a fine of one shilling.
"The offence is an unusual one," Mr Heilpern said.
"Nobody has been charged with the offence for, what I can find, well beyond a century and indeed the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) has alluded to a case from the 1850s."
Mr Heilpern went on to provide his interpretation of the offence.
"To do something with or to the body that does not involve interfering with the body, but involves doing something that members of the community find insulting, to the body," he said in way of explanation.
Although found to be at the lower end of the scale of the offence, Mr Heilpern chastised Wazir for his actions.
"In my view, the way that you dealt with the body was reprehensible and an insult to her and her family," Mr Heilpern told Wazir.
Such behaviour "offends the moral standards" of the wider community, he said.
At a 2008 inquest into Ms Germain's death, Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon described the case as "suspicious and bizarre".
No one has been charged over the death.