David Wood, 48, of Middlesbrough, England, admitted to stealing the keys from a 1968 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI owned by Joel D. Kerr funeral service moments before it was scheduled to transport a body from a funeral to the cemetery in September, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
"The level of disrespect is unbelievable, dreadful," said Irene Jessop, funeral director at Joel Kerr.
Jessop said the deceased woman, Patricia Thorburn, had specifically requested the vintage hearse. She said funeral home employees hot-wired the car instead of calling for a replacement vehicle.
Wood, who told authorities the funeral home had been "poaching" his business, pleaded guilty to theft.
Judge Les Spittle adjourned the case until next month for pre-sentencing reports. He told Wood to expect a community service penalty and fines to pay for the damage to the hearse.
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