Hearse key undertaker escapes jail; COURT.
AN undertaker who stole the keys to a rival's hearse parked outside a funeral escaped jail yesterday.
David Wood, 49, shattered the dignity of Patricia Thorburn's funeral when he stole the vintage RollsRoyce last September.
Mourners had to wait an hour for rival funeral director Joel Kerr - who Wood accused of poaching his business - to hotwire the car so the coffin of Mrs Thorburn, 65, could be taken to a cemetery in Middlesbrough.
Wood admitted theft at an earlier hearing and was sentenced yesterday at Teesside crown court.
Recorder James Goss said what he had done deserved jail, but suspended his sixmonth sentence for a year. He also ordered Wood, of Middlesbrough, to pay pounds 250 costs. He told him: "This is not really an offence of theft but an offence against public decency."
DISPUTE David Wood