Baby wish linked to PA's death plunge

Courier Mail, Australia/August 20, 2009

Rebekah Lawrence's "biological clock" was ticking when she took a self-development course, shortly before stripping naked and throwing herself out a window.

Her "ticking biological clock'' was a significant enough issue in her life to have led to a "mood disorder'' when she took part in the intensive self-development course, The Turning Point, an inquest has heard.

In closing submissions to a coronial inquest into the death of Ms Lawrence, lawyers for the directors of People Knowhow, the company resonsible for The Turning Point, said the 34-year-old personal assistant had a was already a troubled young woman before she signed up to do the course.

Counsel for director Richard Arthur, Kim Burke, told Glebe Coroner's Court Ms Lawrence was torn between her wish to have a child and her love for her husband who did not.

"It was a central and potent issue in her life right up until the last day of the course,'' Ms Burke said.

After completing the course on December, 18, 2005, Ms Lawrence's husband, David Booth, and her colleagues noticed a change in her behaviour.

Two days later, the normally reserved and modest young woman stripped naked, abused her colleagues and leapt to her death from a window of her city office in a "psychotic'' state.

Counsel assisting the Coroner, Robert Bromwich, told the inquest Ms Lawrence's psychosis was triggered by a regression into childhood she underwent in the course.

However, Ms Burke argued Ms Lawrence was already vulnerable and fragile of mind before she enrolled, due to her "dilemma.''

She said Ms Lawrence's sessions with a counselor 10 months before she died, in which she revealed feelings of hopelessness, despair and fears of lonliness, showed she kept some of her innermost thoughts and feelings hidden from her husband and family.

"In a nutshell, Rebekah was vulnerable, albeit it was a vulnerability not recognised by those who knew her or assessed her for this course,'' Ms Burke said.

She also said her husband's gift of a pet cocker spaniel did not fix the problem and showed he was ``insensitive to the issue of having a child for a woman in her 30's with a loud biological ticking clock.''

Ms Burke said even forensic psychiatrist Dr Michael Diamond, who was highly critical of the course and described it as "dangerous'' agreed that the issue of having a child "was significant enough to make Rebekah develop a mood disorder during the course.

"He did say the issue was significant enough to be a stressor.''

"There is a reasonable basis Your Honour can be satisfied it was a considerable enough issue to be a contributing factor to the development of her psychosis.''

Mr Bromwich said there was evidence in an email Ms Lawrence sent to her sister, Kate, to show she had come to a temporary agreement with Mr Booth just weeks before enrolling in the course that they would travel for a couple of years and then re-visit the issue of children.

"That tells us that what Rebekah was seeking from the course was not simply a question of being able to have a child but broader issues of wanting to make herself happy with her life,'' he said.

He said her enrolment forms indicated she wanted to build her confidence and be a happier person.

"Instead, she got intensive psychotherapy and regression therapy and that was what propelled her into psychosisand nothing else.''

Outside court, Mr Arthur's co-director Geoff Kabealo said he would welcome any recommendations made by Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson.

He said he was saddened by the death of Ms Lawrence and that his company had already begun implementing changes, however he did not specify what they were.

Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson will deliver his findings at a later date.

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