Newfoundland man pleads guilty in bizarre case of skeleton stolen from graveyard

The All Saints cemetery in Conception Bay South, N.L. is seen in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

The Newfoundland man at the centre of a strange case of skeletal remains taken from a cemetery has entered a guilty plea.

Lucas Dawe, 20, pleaded guilty to the charge of interfering with human remains in St. John’s provincial court on Thursday.

He had pleaded not guilty at an earlier court appearance and a one-day trial had been set.

READ MORE: Man charged with possession of stolen skeleton, interfering with human remains

The Conception Bay South man still faces charges of possession of stolen property – the remains -and disobeying a court order related to prior theft charges.

The bizarre crime has gripped the community since police launched an investigation into “quite old” partial skeletal remains found on April 6.

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Crown prosecutor Jessica Gallant said details of the case will be presented at Dawe’s June 19 sentencing hearing, where the outstanding charges are also expected to be dealt with.

READ MORE: 500-year-old skeleton, still wearing thigh-high boots, found on Thames River shore

An earlier court date saw the charges related to the remains amended to date from November 2017 to April 2019, suggesting the bones may have been removed more than a year before their discovery in April on a recreational trail.

The remains were traced back to an Anglican cemetery in Conception Bay South, a town of about 26,000 people just west of St. John’s.

The province’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Nash Denic, told The Canadian Press in April that the remains were taken from a mausoleum-style tomb and belonged to someone who died in the 1800s.

READ MORE: Hamilton police investigating human remains found near Lake Ontario shoreline

Denic said at the time it was the first alleged grave robbery he’d seen in the province.

Gallant said Friday that the charge of interfering with human remains is a relatively rare one that can lead to a range of sentences from a fine to jail time, depending on the facts of the case.

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She said the charge typically arises in the context of another crime, like a homicide, relating to how the accused disposed of a body.

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