In the courts: Hypnotism link to daughter's death

Tuesday 20 January 1998 00:02
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A call was made in the High Court in London yesterday for a fresh investigation into whether there was any possible connection between a woman being hypnotised on stage and her death hours later.

The plea came as Sharron Tabarn's mother launched a challenge against an inquest verdict that her daughter died of natural causes. Margaret Harper, of Station Bank, near Preston, is seeking a judicial review and an order forcing a new inquiry into the death.

Mrs Harper's barrister, William Rose, told Lord Justice Simon Brown, sitting with Mr Justice Mance: "There is evidence in other cases of subjects suffering an adverse reaction to stage hypnosis which may have some bearing on the death of this young woman." Mrs Harper, who helped to launch a campaign for a ban on stage hypnosis, believes a suggestion that her daughter would receive a 10,000-volt shock could have been responsible for her death, because she was terrified of electricity.

She died in bed in September 1993 hours after being put in a trance by hypnotist Andrew Vincent at Roebuck public house in Leyland, Lancs. She was healthy, and died two weeks before her 25th birthday. She volunteered to be hypnotised and did a number of harmless acts. She was brought out of the trance after it was suggested she was receiving a 10,000-volt shock. She had been drinking, but Lancashire coroner Michael McCann formed the opinion the amount was insufficient by itself to provide an answer as to why she had died, said Mr Rose. Her heart stopped due to congestion in her lungs after she inhaled vomit. Mr Rose suggested hypnotism could alter or suppress a person's mental condition or reflexes, including the coughing reflex to eject vomit from the lungs.

The hearing was adjourned to today.

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