Wife is a stranger to victim of crash

Click to follow
The Independent Online
FOR MORE than 30 years Alan Davies and his wife, Christine, had a happy marriage. Now, after a car crash, he believes she is an impostor and that his real wife died in the accident. Mr Davies, who is suffering from Capgras' syndrome, refers to his "current" spouse as Christine Two.

Yesterday Mr Davies, 52, a former teacher, was awarded pounds 130,000 in compensation by a court after it was told how the crash devastated his marriage. Though the couple still live in the same house they are considering divorce. Mrs Davies told the High Court in Cardiff: "He doesn't accept that I lived after our accident and that I am his wife. We no longer have a sexual relationship - our only contact now is when I give him a hug. But he doesn't respond. Before the accident he was an extrovert, very spontaneous and emotional. Every day when we got up for breakfast he would say, 'Good morning, I love you' and would give me a kiss. Now he doesn't like doing that at all. I don't know whether he likes touching me or not but he just doesn't do it any more."

The court heard that Mr and Mrs Davies, from Rhondda, south Wales, were in a car when they were involved in a crash with Thomas Williams, who cut across them.

Neil Bidder QC, representing Mr Davies, told the court both husband and wife suffered injury. "The ... accident caused a nervous shock and Mr Davies lost touch with reality. Within a short time he believed his wife had actually died. When Christine returned home he still acted towards her as though she was dead and he could not touch her any more. He suffered ... flashbacks of his wife lying dead ... He calls his wife Christine Two, replacing Christine One, who, he believed, died in the road accident three and a half years ago."

Mr Davies, who had to give up his job as a teacher, said he had problems taking medication for his condition. "I have good days and bad days but I still believe my wife has died. There are marriage strains - before the accident, when we argued, we never slept on it. We have even discussed divorce but she doesn't want to." Mr Davies sued Mr Williams for loss of earnings and damages.

Mr Williams, of Abertillery, admitted liability for the crash but denied causing Mr Davies any psychological problems. An agreement was reached yesterday whereby Mr Davies will receive pounds 130,000 plus costs.

Last night David Enoch, a consultant psychiatrist and expert on Capgras' syndrome, said sufferers were usually men who believed their close partner, usually a wife, had been replaced by a double or an impostor.

He said he dealt with about six cases a year, which were referred to him from around the world. "It is one of the rarest psychiatric illnesses in the world. It is extremely distressing for the sufferer and those around him, especially his wife."

The illness was identified in 1923 and named after one of the two French psychiatrists who made the discovery.