'Parallels between therapy course deaths'

AAP, Australia/August 30, 2009

Relatives of two men who committed suicide while attending a childhood regression therapy course say they see similarities between those deaths and that of Sydney woman Rebekah Lawrence.

Deputy NSW Coroner Malcolm MacPherson is considering his verdict in the case of Ms Lawrence, 34, who plunged to her death naked from an open second storey window in her office in Macquarie Street, Sydney, in December 2005.

Two days earlier, she had completed a Turning Point course, described as a "journey to the core of the human spirit" and that involved intensive psychotherapy regression.

An autopsy found she had no drugs or alcohol in her system at the time of her death.

Earlier this month, counsel assisting the coroner Robert Bromwich blamed Ms Lawrence's attendance at the "intrinsically unsafe" course for the "lethal psychosis" that induced her to jump.

But in closing submissions at the inquest, the barrister for the teacher who led the course - run by Cremorne company People Knowhow - argued Ms Lawrence's biological clock made her vulnerable to emotional disturbance.

The inquest heard Ms Lawrence wanted to participate in the course to help her resolve an emotional dilemma - to accept that her long-standing desire to be a mother may not be realised because her "soul mate" husband did not want more children.

Lawyers for the course director Geoff Kabealo and Ms Lawrence's "teacher" Richard Arthur argued she must have had a pre-existing and undiagnosed mental condition before she underwent the program.

"The issue of Rebekah having a child was significant enough to have caused the emotional disturbance," Kim Burke told the inquest.

Peter Hart is the former partner of Korean student Ki Hyung Kwon, 32, who allegedly stripped naked and stabbed himself to death in Wollongong in 2006, just days after attending a Turning Point course.

Mr Hart said both Mr Kwon and Ms Lawrence were naked and singing when they died.

"Especially the singing. She was singing when she jumped and apparently he was singing when he died," he told the Nine Network's 60 Minutes program tonight.

Mr Kwon had declared to the course that he was bisexual, a matter that might have caused problems later, Mr Hart said.

"I just thought: 'Well if he opened up to a lot of people about his personal life, he might have thought afterwards he shouldn't have done that and it's going to get back to Korea'."

John Marshall said his troubled stepson Darren Hughes was convinced a similar course would help him, but three days into it Mr Hughes threw himself to his death from a window.

He said a newspaper article about Rebekah Lawrence stood out.

"When they said she was euphoric it just seemed ... bang. I thought: 'My God, it's happened again'."

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