Undertaker denies stealing
STORIES of adultery, murder plots and alleged thefts unravelled in Ballina Local Court yesterday, when a Ballina undertaker took the stand accused of stealing jewellery from deceased people.
Neil Gray withstood several hours of cross-examination, when it was alleged he knowingly stole jewellery from deceased persons who passed through Gray's then-business Ballina Funeral Home before they were buried or cremated.
Gray denies the allegations.
Ballina Detective Sergeant Ashley Bryant said there were seven cases of alleged stolen property but he told the court there were still 10 pieces of jewellery, seized from Gray's funeral home he had not found owners for.
Gray said he would sometimes authorise the removal of jewellery from deceased people to "err on the side of caution" in case family members wanted to keep the jewellery rather than "waste it".
The court heard that Gray collected a deceased woman's body from Ballina Hospital in 2009 where staff recorded that the woman had a wedding band on her finger.
Gray said he trans- ported the body to his then-business but did not dress the body.
The prosecutor stated that when the body reached the mortuary, records showed she was not wearing a ring.
The defendant's ex-wife allegedly discovered the ring in the filing cabinet of Gray's office last year.
Gray said he did not know how it ended up in the office as he never ever touched or saw the deceased's body at any time.
"Either the wardsman was incorrect or the records at the mortuary were incorrect," he said.
A close friend of Gray told the court how Ms Gray called him and told of her plan to murder Gray, who she alleged had an affair.
In a previous court appearance, Ms Gray denied the phone call.
The matter was adjourned until February 3 when Magistrate Heilpern will deliver his judgment.