A funeral driver in Australia has been fined $5000 for leaving a baby's corpse on the roof of a van and driving off, in what the judge described as "one of the most appalling cases" of neglect.

Richard John Bertrand was on his way to a Brisbane morgue from the Sunshine Coast when he mistakenly made the horrible error in November 2018.

The court heard Bertrand had put the stillborn baby's capsule to one side while he swapped vehicles because the upper part of the van, where he usually places caskets, was taken up with a large floral arrangement, ABC reported.

Unaware of his mistake, Bertrand then drove off, with the baby flying off the roof of the van.

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The infant's body was found the next day on the roadside by road workers.

The 59-year-old avoided conviction but was fined $5000 after pleading guilty to misconduct with regard to a corpse.

In a victim statement, which was read out to the court, the baby's mother said the family were struggling to hold their lives together and this incident was another added dagger to the heart.

"We were hesitant to leave him but we were reassured he would be cared for until he was returned to us," she said.

"Just when we didn't think our grief could get any worse we received a call from Queensland Health advising that officials would visit our home, and that something had gone wrong with our son's transport to Brisbane."

Bertrand later said he felt for the family and was totally embarrassed.

Despite having 12 years of experience, the court heard Bertrand had not had any formal training, nor did he have a formal contract with Queensland Health for transporting corpses.

The funeral driver for Queensland Funeral Transfers accidentally took off in his van while the casket of a baby was still on the roof of the vehicle. Photo / Queensland Funeral Transfers
The funeral driver for Queensland Funeral Transfers accidentally took off in his van while the casket of a baby was still on the roof of the vehicle. Photo / Queensland Funeral Transfers

In an interview with the Daily Mail Australia back in December, Bertrand expressed remorse, saying he feels for the family.

"I just feel bad about the fact I made a mistake. I really feel for the family who are going through this," he said.

"It [the casket] had to be moved and I put it on the roof. I just forgot to move it again."

Magistrate Graham Hillan said "it's one of the most difficult ones I've had to determine" and explained he had to take into account the mistake "was quite appalling for parents who had suffered a lot of agony already and to have this on top was certainly an appalling case for them".

He said also said he acknowledged Bertrand had pleaded guilty, co-operated with police and had no criminal record.