Exorcism witness tells of struggle

One News/November 27, 2001

On Tuesday the High Court in Auckland heard evidence from another follower of a religious leader accused of killing a woman during an exorcism.

One of Luke Lee's followers says he helped restrain the woman as she struggled against her pastor.

Luke Lee, the self proclaimed pastor of the lord of all church is charged with the manslaughter of one of his followers.

Joanna Lee was alleged strangled to death during a ritual to expell her demons.

Luke Lee, apparently also performed an exorcism on this unidentified witness.

Through an interpreter he told of faking a coughing fit so Lee would believe his demons had been expelled and stop choking him.

"Part way through I felt so difficult to breath so I told myself I had to cough to get out of this," said the witness, whose name has been suppressed.

The witness was also present at Joanna Lee's exorcism, and during that ritual Luke Lee allegedly called on his followers for help.

"When Joanna was moving her body very hard he asked Lydia, Grace and Timothy to hold her arms and limbs," said the witness.

He said he also helped pin her down.

During the exorcism the accused allegedly bounced up and down on Joanna Lee's chest several times and then began squeezing her throat to force her demons out.

The court interpreter relayed what the witness saw next.

"She was trying to take the hands, which were holding her neck, away and then I could see her struggling very hard," he revealed.

It is alleged that followers were told to put her body in a bedroom.

"Luke Lee said Joanna was not dead and she was in heaven for a short period of time," said the witness.

But the man said in the following days he was shocked by the smell coming from the victims room.

"Her body was so swollen that her clothes were so tight, also her face was about twice as big as before," he said.

The man said he had wanted to believe that Joanna would be resurrected.

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