Scientologists given accused's psychiatric file

The Australian/September 28, 2007

The Church of Scientology has been granted access to a confidential psychiatric report tendered as evidence in the trial of a Sydney woman accused of murdering her family earlier this year.

The 25-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was diagnosed with a psychotic illness last year but allegedly discouraged by her parents from taking her prescribed medication because of their Scientology beliefs.

The report, by psychiatrist Mark Cross, who examined the woman after her arrest, said her parents allowed her to resume the medication shortly before the attack, in which her father and sister were stabbed to death.

"She had a history of being diagnosed with a psychotic illness in late 2006 at Bankstown Hospital, but follow-up from the mental health team was apparently denied by her parents because of their alleged Scientology beliefs," the report says.

The Australian Church of Scientology applied for and was granted access to the report by Burwood Local Court, where the woman is on trial, although reporters were subsequently told the document would not be publicly released.

Cyrus Brooks, community relations officer for the church, said it had sought access to the document after media coverage linking Scientology to the alleged murders, although access was granted on condition that the church not release the report to the media.

Despite this, Mr Brooks has emailed excerpts from the report to journalists to "correct" their reporting of the case.

"My purpose here is to clarify that it is not church policy to advise any person to give up medication and the church certainly does not come between a medical doctor and their patient, nor tell a person what to do with their personal health," Mr Brooks said.

The accused will return to court next month to seek bail to allow her to receive treatment in a locked psychiatric unit at Sydney's Cumberland Hospital.

During the attack, at the family's home at Revesby in Sydney's southwest on July 5, she is alleged to have killed her 53-year-old father and 15-year-old sister and to have committed grievous bodily harm on her 52-year-old mother.

"She (the accused) stated that her parents did not want her to take the prescribed medication she had been on in 2006, and apparently started her on medication they got from America, which was not psychiatric in nature," Dr Cross's report says.

A spokesman for the NSW Chief Magistrates Office confirmed the church had been granted "limited access" to the report and allowed to take notes of its contents, although it had not been given a physical copy to take outside Burwood Local Court building.

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