Depressed mother sues GP over ‘exorcism’ treatment she received

Mother-of-six, 54, who ‘was told by a GP she was possessed by DEMONS then taken to an exorcism as she recovered from bowel operation’ sues surgery for £50,000 mental ‘trauma’

  • Sally Brayshaw was recovering from bowel surgery and had severe depression
  • 54-year-old went to her doctors in Stoke-on-Trent for treatment in 2012 
  • But she claims locum doctor Thomas O’Brien told her she was possessed 
  • Mother-of-six is suing surgery for £50,000 over claims she was scarred by it 

Sally Brayshaw, 54 (pictured outside London’s High Court today) is suing her former GP surgery over claims a doctor told her she was possessed by the devil 

A depressed mother-of-six today launched legal action against her doctor’s surgery over claims one GP told her she was possessed by the devil and took her to an exorcism.

Sally Brayshaw, 54, was recovering from bowel surgery, but also had chronic back pain, depression and other mental health problems, when she went to the Apsley Surgery in Stoke-on-Trent in 2012.

The former special constable wanted to discuss her depression, but claims locum GP Dr Thomas O’Brien tried to ‘heal her without medication’. 

She says the Pentecostal Christian GP spoke to her in tongues, told her she was possessed by demons and visited her home where he tried to indoctrinate her with religious TV shows.

She is now locked in a High Court battle with the surgery’s partners, who she is suing for £50,000 over claims she has been left mentally scarred. 

She told the London High Court hearing: ‘I don’t know how I got so sucked into things like I did.

‘It was the first thing that I thought about when I woke up and the last thing at night.’

Dr O’Brien, who was struck off the medical register in 2015, has not responded to Mrs Brayshaw’s compensation claim and did not appear in court. 

Mentally scarred: Mother-of-six Sally Brayshaw claims she has been left traumatised by her experience with Dr Thomas O’Brien 

But the surgery’s partners say he did not breach his duty as a doctor and, even if he did, they are not liable.


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Their lawyers claim Dr O’Brien was not an employee of the surgery and say he was just an ‘independent contractor’.

Pentecostal Christian GP Dr Thomas O’Brien allegedly spoke to the woman in tongues

Mrs Brayshaw’s barrister, Justin Levinson, told Mr Justice Martin Spencer she had undergone colon surgery in 2012, but had other health problems. 

She called the surgery to talk about her depression in August 2012 and spoke to Dr O’Brien, who offered an alternative healing method.

Mrs Brayshaw told the judge: ‘When he said ‘have you thought of other ways of healing?’ I thought he meant acupuncture or something like that.’

From then until January 2013, Dr O’Brien ‘purported to treat’ Mrs Brayshaw, her barrister continued.

He and his wife Tina talked to her about God and went to her house, where the doctor set her TV to show the Gospel Channel when she woke in the morning, in order to ‘soak her with religious content’, she claims. 

The couple, who follow a Pentecostal form of Christianity through a ministry called Freedom in Christ, prayed with her, gave her religious gifts and suggested that she ‘was possessed by demons’, said Mr Levinson.  

Mrs Brayshaw says she will never forget the ‘abuse’ she claims to have suffered at the couple’s hands.

She said she had attended a religious meeting with Dr O’Brien where a preacher called Percy told a nightmarish tale involving witch doctors and owls.

Mrs Brayshaw was recovering from bowel surgery when she went to the Apsley Surgery (based in the building above) in Stoke-on-Trent in 2012

Mrs Brayshaw told the court: ‘At the testimony where that story was given, Dr O’Brien asked me to come to the front of the room to heal me and Percy asked me to hold my hands out as I could pass out.

‘Percy blew on me and was commanding demons to leave my body. I let out a roar.

‘There were nearly 100 people there at the testimony and it was played on the TV screen in the building.’

The ‘treatment’ finally came to an end when she confided in a psychiatrist, she claims, saying: ‘They manipulated me and groomed me into thinking they were friends, but instead they emotionally abused me over time as I became more vulnerable and reclusive from my family.

‘I recall that Tony, my husband, said there was some sort of cult going on, but I thought he was insane. Dr O’Brien and Tina said that Tony didn’t believe in the Lord.

‘Tony didn’t like what Dr O’Brien was doing from the beginning, but he put up with it because he was a GP.’

She added: ‘I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I still don’t understand completely.’ 

Mrs Brayshaw is now locked in a High Court (Royal Courts of Justice, London pictured) battle with the surgery’s partners, who she is suing for £50,000 over claims she has been left mentally scarred

Mrs Brayshaw is suing for ‘deliberate infliction of harm, negligence and harassment’ and claims the surgery was ‘vicariously liable’ for Dr O’Brien’s actions.

‘She is suffering from depression as a result of Dr O’Brien’s conduct,’ he told the judge.

‘She has also developed anxiety symptoms, post traumatic stress disorder and a specific phobia of owls.’

The surgery denies Dr O’Brien’s actions amounted to a legal wrong and suggests other stresses in Mrs Brayshaw’s life may lie behind her current symptoms.

It also denies liability to pay damages on the basis that it was not responsible for Dr O’Brien’s actions because he was not an employee.

But Mr Levison said the ‘manipulation’ of Mrs Brayshaw occurred within the context of Dr O’Brien’s duties as a GP.

‘The entire conduct was only possible because of his role,’ he told the judge.

‘It was as a GP that he advised her to take up the ‘healing without medication’.

‘That was his treatment plan for her and she was injured by the implementation of that treatment plan.’ The hearing continues.  

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