Exorcist 'pastor' convicted of manslaughter

New Zealand Herald/December 6, 2001
By Tony Stickley

Self-styled pastor Luke Lee was today found guilty of the manslaughter of one his most ardent followers Joanna Lee during an exorcism that went horribly wrong.

After the jury returned its guilty verdict at the end of an eight-day trial, Justice Barry Paterson told them: "You may have formed the view that Mr Lee may have obsessive and fanatical religious beliefs, but that doesn't mean of course that he can infringe the laws of the land."

The judge added that he believed the verdict was appropriate.

He remanded 38-year-old Lee, the founder of Lord of Alls church in Mt Roskill, for sentencing on December 20.

The Crown, represented by Aaron Perkins and Simon Mount, maintained that Lee strangled 37-year-old Ms Lee during a particularly aggressive exorcism ritual in which he also sat and bounced on her stomach and chest to expel demons.

Lee claimed it was the devil who killed Ms Lee, but he assured the court that she would return to life before next Monday, December 10.

In his summing up, Justice Paterson told the jury they had heard a lot about resurrection but it was irrelevant to what happened the night Ms Lee died on December 9 last year.

The jury heard that Ms Lee's body turned black and decomposed over six days as Lee and his followers prayed and chanted incantations to bring her back to life.

One woman was even persuaded by Lee to lie on top of the rotting corpse and blow into the mouth in an effort to revive it.

On account of the distressing evidence during the eight-day trial, Justice Paterson excused jurors from further jury service for three years.

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