Woman sues homeopath over sister s cancer death
Woman sues homeopath over sister's cancer death

Penelope Dingle's sister is suing the homeopath who persuaded the cancer victim to ignore conventional treatment in favour of fighting the deadly disease with alternative medicine.

The case made national headlines in 2010 when State Coroner Alastair Hope held an inquest into Mrs Dingle's death, finding that her husband, Peter Dingle, and homeopath Francine Scrayen had played important roles in the decision.

Mrs Dingle's sister Toni Brown has launched District Court proceedings against Ms Scrayen, claiming she suffered her own psychological problems as a result of the way in which her sister died.

"The defendant's negligent treatment and/or advice to Ms Dingle was in breach of the duty she also owed to the plaintiff to take reasonable care in the treatment and advice she provided to Ms Dingle, such to avoid reasonable foreseeable harm to those persons in a close and loving relationship with Ms Dingle," Ms Brown's lawyer Phil Gleeson said in the writ.

"The plaintiff's claim is for damages for personal injuries sustained by the plaintiff as a direct result of the death of Penelope Dingle on August 25, 2005."

Mrs Dingle developed rectal bleeding in 2001 and was diagnosed with cancer in February, 2003.

Specialists urged her to have surgery, chemotherapy and radio- therapy but she opted for alternative treatments, including the homeopathy provided by Mrs Scrayen.

The tumour blocked her bowels and on October 12, 2003 she was admitted to Fremantle Hospital for a lifesaving operation.

Mr Hope was satisfied that even at that late stage Mrs Dingle was still contemplating not having surgery on the advice of Mrs Scrayen.

He said Dr Dingle, who had no formal medical qualification, was also actively involved in isolating his wife from the outside inter- ferences of those recommending conventional medicine.

"The deceased could not have continued on the path of stand-alone homeopathic treatment for as long as she did without his involvement," Mr Hope said.

Mr Hope said that while Dr Dingle had been an active participant in his wife's decision-making "ultimately the decisions were those of the deceased. The deceased paid a terrible price for poor decision-making."

Mr Gleeson, from law firm Maurice Blackburn, said Mrs Dingle's death had a profound and traumatising effect on his client.

"Ms Scrayen's treatment of Ms Dingle prior to her death drew significant criticism from Coroner Hope. Maurice Blackburn will continue to work hard to bring a resolution to these proceedings and some closure for Toni," he said.

Both Ms Scrayen and Dr Dingle yesterday refused to comment on the writ.

The West Australian

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