Wife leapt off building after self-help course

BY BELLINDA KONTOMINAS
Last updated 16:20 10/08/2009

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A Sydney woman who jumped naked off the building where she worked had attended a "high intensity" self-help course days earlier, an inquest has heard.

Rebekah Lawrence's behaviour in the days following her participation in the Cremorne-based Turning Point program, run by People Knowhow, was "extreme and disturbing" the inquest at Glebe Coroner's Court heard today.

Ms Lawrence, 34, jumped from the Macquarie Street building where she worked as a personal assistant for the chief executive of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians shortly before 7pm on December 20, 2005.

Counsel assisting the inquest Robert Bromwich said that, in the two hours before Ms Lawrence's death, she had been "aggressive, somewhat abusive and somewhat foul mouthed, all of which were totally out of character".

"Her death was not a suicide because she didn't have sufficient presence of mind to take her own life," he said.

"She climbed out of the second-floor window of her workplace building, stepped off the ledge and fell onto the pavement below, and then she died half an hour later," Mr Bromwich said.

"She was a modest girl but took her clothes off twice and was naked at the time of her death."

An autopsy found no alcohol or drugs in her system.

Ms Lawrence's husband, David Booth, told the court the couple had been "warned" by a friend who had already completed the four-day course, that Ms Lawrence was likely to feel upset and unbalanced afterwards.

"Rebekah was concerned at this point," Mr Booth told the court. "I was quite bewildered why someone would be concerned about completing a self-development course. I thought Rebekah would get a lot out of it."

But Mr Booth said his wife began displaying strange, detached, behaviour during the course, "almost like someone on drugs" and would stare at him "like in a dream state".

The inquest before Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson continues.

- With AAP

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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