[Planet Rock] A woman left with a fear of owls following months of religious grooming by a doctor has been awarded more than £12,000 after a High Court ruling.
Sally Brayshaw, 56, from Stoke-on-Trent, was told she was possessed by demons and the devil was “having a real go” at her by GP Thomas O’Brien.
At one of a series of religious meetings she attended with the locum doctor, a preacher spoke of sacrificing an owl which left her “terrified” of the birds and she later became upset when seeing a picture of one.
She was left traumatized by the experience, which the judge, Mr. Justice Martin Spencer, described as “foreseeable”.
The locum doctor, a Pentecostal Christian, also advised her not to see a psychiatrist, Ms. Brayshaw said in her High Court claim.
Ruling Dr. O’Brien was “negligent”, Mr. Justice Spencer said Mrs. Brayshaw was entitled to more than £12,700 in compensation from the doctor.
But the judge rejected her claim against the partners of Apsley Surgery in Stoke-on-Trent, where Dr. O’Brien worked.
“By reason of his zealous promotion of the religious aspects, he became blind to the medical aspects and thereby caused or contributed to the deterioration in the claimant’s mental health,” the judge said.
“Accordingly, in my judgment, (Dr. O’Brien) is liable to the claimant for the psychiatric damage which she has sustained and its consequences.”
Dr. O’Brien, who was struck off in 2015 after a General Medical Council investigation, took no part in the case and his whereabouts are unknown.
Mrs. Brayshaw, who has multiple physical and mental health problems, was in pain following an operation when she went to see Dr. O’Brien in August 2012.
He suggested a way of healing without medication which she agreed to try because she was “feeling desperate”, her lawyers said at an earlier hearing.
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