(337) GRAVE CRIME AT MACKENZIE’S MAUSOLEUM
On 26 March 2004 two teenage boys became the first people since 1899 to be convicted in the High Court of Justiciary of the crime of violation of a sepulchre. The sepulchre in question was the domed mausoleum of the 17th-century Scottish jurist, Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh (1636-1691), which is located in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh. The boys broke into the mausoleum through its wooden doors on the night of 30 June 2003. The older boy cut off the mummified head of one of the four corpses within the tomb, and then removed it to the kirkyard outside, where he played with it, including mimicking the performance of a sex act with it. It is not known whether the head was Mackenzie’s, although it reportedly was that of a male and there was a ring in the left ear-lobe. The sentencing of the boys was deferred for three weeks pending background reports.
Mackenzie himself does not seem to have touched on the crime of violation of sepulchre in his Matters Criminal (1678). However, in the chapter on theft he wrote (I, xix, 4): By the Civil Law it was accounted no Theft to intromit with