Mother accused of poisoning daughter with hormones went 'doctor shopping' for preferred diagnosis, court hears

Mary Kidson visited Belgian doctor described as 'a quack'

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The Independent Online

A mother accused of poisoning her daughter with hormones was acting after consulting a Belgian physician considered by senior British doctors to be a “quack”, a court has heard.

Mary Kidson, 55, refused to accept the opinion of multiple NHS experts that the teenager was suffering from no identifiable disorders and instead sought out Dr Thierry Hertoghe, who runs a specialist hormone and anti-ageing clinic in Brussels.

The mother is on trial for allegedly plying her daughter with a cocktail of medications for conditions, including autism and late physical development, which prosecutors say she did not have and resulted in psychological damage as well as potential long-term physical harm.

Worcester Crown Court heard that the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was taken into care last year after her father raised concerns about the medication she was receiving from her mother. The daughter eventually suffered a breakdown and was transferred to psychiatric unit under the Mental Health Act.

Ms Kidson, who has been remanded in prison since April, denies three charges of administering a poison with intent to endanger life. Her defence barrister suggested that her daughter’s fragile condition was due to the manner in which her case was handled by social services and the trauma of being removed from her mother rather than her medical treatment.

Prosecutors allege that Ms Kidson became convinced her daughter, now aged 16, had an autistic disorder and was late entering puberty because of hormonal shortages, despite repeated tests conducted at locations including Birmingham Children’s Hospital and London’s Great Ormond Street, which showed she was within normal limits and had no identifiable conditions.

Jurors were told that the mother, formerly of Ledbury, Herefordshire, then indulged in “doctor shopping” by touring clinics until she found a clinician who provided her with the diagnosis that she wanted for daughter.

After consulting Dr Hertoghe, who is a qualified doctor, in 2010, she began dosing the teenager with thyroid extract, the female hormone oestrogen and hydrocortisone, released by the body when under stress. In the case of hydrocortisone, it is alleged that the dose was at least three times that considered normal for an adolescent and may have been much higher, putting the girl at risk of long-term complications including heart disease and diabetes.

Dr Neil Fraser, the paediatrician in charge of child safeguarding in Herefordshire who also specialises in endocrine or hormonal disorders, said he fundamentally disagreed with Dr Hertoghe’s methods and, under cross-examination, confirmed he had described them as “quackery” in a report to the court.

Dr Fraser said: “We could conceive of no reason rationally for [the daughter] being prescribed these things.”

He added: “The important conclusion I reached was that there was no clinical or laboratory findings of a clear endocrine disorder and therefore nothing which justified hormonal treatment.”

The court heard that the daughter had been psychologically damaged by the batteries of medical tests and being told repeatedly she had conditions which she did not have. Describing how colleagues had tried to convince her that tests showed her womb and hormones were developing normally, Dr Fraser said: “It was very difficult to reassure her. She was convinced and had been told she was abnormal and would be infertile. We found no evidence of this.”

He added: “Being told that you are abnormal in some way, I believe is very damaging to her.”

The court heard that Dr Hertoghe had defended his treatment in a report submitted to the court, insisting that the hormones he had prescribed were “vital for [the daughter’s] life and health” and were “in no way poisons at the doses administered”.

In the document, Dr Hertoghe criticised the NHS, saying it was stifling valid practices. He said: “It is an authoritarian medical system which more than others refuses autonomy to patients.”

Dr Neil rejected the claims, saying that Dr Hertoghe was not an endocrine specialist and some of his treatments had not been proven by the necessary rigorous testing.

The case continues.