An arrest warrant has been issued for a ‘healer’ found guilty advertising a fake ‘Brain Tonic’ cure for diseases including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and cancer.
Genevieve Flight, 43, failed to attend her trial at Gloucester Crown Court this week and is believed to be laying low in Nigeria.
The hearing began in her absence yesterday and ended today, with jurors taking just 31 minutes to convict her on all counts.
Flight, who is listed as a director of the Shambhallah Healing Centre, denied 12 charges of making misleading written representations on social media and her businesses website.
She claimed a product called ‘Brain Tonic’ is a holistic cure for diseases which are medically regarded as incurable.
Recorder James Waddington QC allowed the trial to go ahead after being told the defendant had received details of the case against her and the hearing date, while she has been effectively on the run in Australia, New Zealand and now Nigeria.
The judge said: ‘She has voluntarily absented herself from this trial.’
Gloucestershire Trading Standards officer Sarah Watson told the court how an investigation began after a cancer survivor complained about claims made on social media by the Shambhallah Healing Centre.
Prosecutor Rupert Russell said: ‘In these adverts on Facebook, Twitter and the centre’s own website, Flight claimed to be able to cure a lot of illnesses with no known cure with her herbal remedy.
‘The claims are false as well as misleading and are clearly designed to get people to part with their money.
‘It is against the law in this country to make false or untrue statements in order to get people to engage in a financial transaction.
‘That’s what this case is all about. Its target audience is clearly aimed at vulnerable people with incurable, degenerative conditions who may well jump at any opportunity that offers hope.
‘Flight claims that her product will cure pretty much any ailment as well as cancer.
‘Her claims are unfounded scientifically as there are no known cures for Alzheimer’s and Huntington disease.
‘I was concerned about the claims that the Shambhallah Healing Centre was making. In layman’s terms she was operating a con.’
The court heard how there was no pricing for Brain Tonic, described as being made up of ’12 legendary herb extracts’.
Posts also claimed the product reversed brain disorders and could treat autism and the effects of strokes and dementia.
Addressing the jury, neuropsychiatry consultant and chairman of the Huntington’s Association executive committee Dr Hugh Rickards said no treatment can currently modify the disease.
He added: ‘There is no known cure. The disease affects just about everything the brain does.
‘I have seen the advert and I don’t think there is such a thing as a brain tonic, as described here.
‘Somebody might claim it, but there is no scientific evidence to this effect of curing all diseases.
‘I have looked at the brain tonic’s ingredients and I have not seen any scientific evidence of any of them having any benefit to Huntington disease sufferers.
‘The claims are clearly false and they worry me as hope is a very precious commodity among the Huntington community and to give people hope in the absence of proper evidence is a real problem.’
A transcript of Flight’s interview with Gloucestershire Trading Standards officers in London was read out in court.
In it, she said she had originally trained as a registered nurse. She said her centre was based in the Philippines and had been operational for 15 to 20 years.
Flight claimed the products in Brain Tonic are ‘all natural ingredients that people use every day and therefore do not need any special authorisation.’
She added: ‘Enquires come in from all over the world. The most important thing to us is to help people.
‘We help them understand how the tonic works. It’s not about the business, it’s the healing work we do.
‘People ask for help to try something. We help them in different ways. Each case is different.
‘Our slogan is “beyond borders”. It’s an opportunity to change their life for the best.
‘When somebody contacts us we assess their situation and deal with the problem.
‘It is an holistic assessment incorporating physical assessment, emotional, physiological, as well as mental and spiritual as well as investigation into their lifestyle habits.
‘Even if two people are suffering from cancer, the treatment will be different. There is always a protocol to follow, you can always solve the problem.
‘If you bring me someone who needs late stage prostate cancer treatment, we will assess them and let them know what we can charge them to cure or reverse the cancer. Whatever we do is guaranteed.
‘If somebody goes into hospital their body is bombarded with chemotherapy, radiotherapy, radiation and everything they give to you kills the internal system. What we do is work with the body.
‘Even when patients have the money for treatment the patient chooses to go to hospital because they have been told that cancer is incurable.
‘Our skills are not practical in hospital situations. We have helped so many people over the years.
‘We don’t have any misleading descriptions on our website. Medical experts have no idea how this all works. It’s not their field. We make the lives of our patients so much better.’
The court heard how the other director of the Gloucester registered company is Dr Summers Nwokie, who operates out of the Bacoor area of the Philippines.
Consultant psychiatrist and chairman of the Old Age Psychiatry organisation Dr Alex Bailey told jurors Alzheimer’s was the most common form of dementia, affecting the brain’s functions controlling memory, language, communication, emotions and decision making.
He said it not scientifically possible to cure people or reverse the disease’s effects.
Dr Bailey said four licensed products can slow the onset of dementia down but cannot stop or reverse it.
He added: ‘I had not heard of the Shambhallah Healing Centre before these proceedings and the claims the company makes are definitely false.
‘Aside from Ginkgo, none of the ingredients listed in the brain tonic have any known medical benefit towards Alzheimer’s.
‘There have been studies surrounding the use of Ginkgo, but these were inconclusive in cases of dementia.’
The jury heard how Flight, formerly of Quedgeley, Gloucester, describes herself as the ‘Priestess of Lunar Logos,’ and as an ‘ancient healing initiator.’
In his summing up to the jury the Recorder said both medical experts said families ‘desperate to find a cure for their loved ones may be tempted to reach for something unrealistic’.
He added: ‘She stated that the company’s philosophy was to change lifestyles and habits. She wouldn’t be drawn on the cost of the brain tonic.
‘She likened the NHS and the Shambhallah Healing Centre as being the difference between life and death.’
On receiving their verdicts the judge, Recorder Waddington issued a warrant for Flight’s arrest and said she would be sentenced if and when she is found and brought to court.
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