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BBC Scotland's Alan Grant
"I was barred from the court after admitting eating mints"
 real 28k

Friday, 18 February, 2000, 19:55 GMT
Shampoo 'could have killed me'

Dundee Sheriff Court The courtroom was locked for Miss Brown's evidence


A total allergy sufferer has told a court that she could have been killed by shampoo her estranged husband smeared on a door handle.

Heather Brown put her hand on the handle and instantly suffered a dangerous allergic reaction to the chemical substance.


It is like a feeling of panic, there is a tightness in your chest, you become dizzy and wheezy and can vomit.
Heather Brown
Her ex-husband Colin Slane, 28, denies endangering Miss Brown's life by putting the shampoo on the front door handle in the knowledge that it could cause her to suffer an extreme reaction.

He also pleads not guilty to spitting in her face and maliciously vandalising her car by jumping on the roof.

Officials and journalists have been screened for anything that might inflame Miss Brown's allergy before being allowed into the courtroom in Dundee, which was locked while she gave evidence.

Admission refused

On Thursday, a reporter was refused admission after eating confectionery containing peanuts and on Friday, another journalist was barred after sucking a mint sweet.

Miss Brown said she had been taking her son to school on a January morning last year when she noticed a gel-like substance on the door handle and a strong perfume-like smell.

Heather Brown Heather Brown arrives at court
"After I realised I had touched the substance I got in the house and sat down because I had started to feel breathless," she said.

"I had an itchy neck and the bottom of my face began to swell."

Miss Brown, 33, described how she immediately had to administer anti-histamine drugs and a nebulizer to prevent anaphylactic shock.

She explained previous experiences which had landed her in hospital: "It is like a feeling of panic, there is a tightness in your chest, you become dizzy and wheezy and can vomit.

Adrenalin injections

"It was a minor reaction but my doctor pointed out that a minor reaction can lead to a much more serious one."

Miss Brown's doctor Susan Morely told the court how her patient could die if she did not receive appropriate medical treatment.

Dr Morley, a dermatologist based at the city's Ninewells Hospital, said she had seen Miss Brown on a number of occasions regarding her problem.

She said her list of allergies included food additives, perfume compounds and medicines such as penicillin, antibiotics and painkillers.

Reaction to Irn Bru

Dr Morely added that it was impossible to say Miss Brown would be allergic to all shampoos but that most contained perfume compounds.

Miss Brown said her problems began when she worked as a bouncer at a night club in 1995 when she took a sip of the fizzy drink Irn Bru and had a reaction.

She was a season ticket holder at Ibrox, home of Rangers in Glasgow, but said she had not attended any matches this season because of fears it would set off her condition.

She had been administered with adrenaline injections about 20 times during the three-year history of her illness.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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See also:
18 Feb 00 |  Scotland
Court barred for allergy evidence
22 Jun 99 |  A-B
Anaphylactic shock

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