A religious British doctor was ruled by a High Court to owe a woman £12,000 ($15,323) for medical negligence when he caused in her a great and lasting fear of owls and told her not to see a psychiatrist.
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 traumatised 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.
Struck-off: Removed, usually from a position of power or responsibility or stature. (Example:) The doctor was struck off for professional misconduct.
I hope she gets the help she needed. Phobias are fairly treatable these days. With oclaphobia, a persistent irrational fear of owls, Mrs Brayshaw may not get certain messages …