'Shy' wife in naked leap death

The Daily Telegraph, Australia/August 11, 2009

It's called The Turning Point and it promises "a new way of living," but this self-styled personal development course could have triggered a psychotic state in a young woman who stripped naked and leapt to her death from an inner-city office window.

Rebekah Lawrence, 34, completed The Turning Point, a four-day course run by People Knowhow in Cremorne, on December 18, 2005, with the aim of "resolving issues" in her life.

Two days later, the "shy, modest and gentle" PA took off her clothes in front of shocked colleagues, became abusive and aggressive and jumped to her death from the second storey window of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in Macquarie St.

Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson will now determine if the course contributed to her "psychotic" state of mind leading up to her death and whether there is a risk of a similar episode occurring to someone else.

The inquest could lead to the establishment of a regulatory body to oversee the content of courses involving psychotherapy and counselling.

Glebe Coroner's Court yesterday heard Ms Lawrence had no significant emotional or mental problems leading up to her death.

No traces of drugs of alcohol were found.

"Her death wasn't a suicide because she didn't have sufficient presence of mind to take her own life," counsel assisting the coroner, Robert Bromwich, said.

Her husband David Booth said there had been some "heated" arguments because she wanted to have a baby and he didn't, however she had come to terms with this.

"She was happy to live the rest of her life with me, doing our travelling and the things we loved to do," he said.

Mr Booth said his wife had learnt a lot from the course, but her behaviour after it was odd. "It was almost like a person on drugs," he said of her dream-like state," he said.

Colleagues also noticed Ms Lawrence was acting out of character. Usually conscientious, she spent most of the day staring into space and trying to call People Knowhow.

The court heard Ms Lawrence told an approaching paramedic to "get out" before she suddenly shouted "I love you, I love you" and jumped.

The inquest continues.

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