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VIRGIN TO SEX MANIAC; EXCLUSIVE: 3-PAGE SPECIAL ON A MEDICAL NIGHTMARE: At 42, clean-living Richard Davis was given a cancer drug which he says turned him into a playboy..he spent a fortune on women and ended up bankrupt in prison.

Byline: CLAIRE GOLDWIN

AT the age of 42, Richard Davis' millionaire lifestyle extended to games of bridge and mugs of Horlicks.

The publisher had no interest in sex and never took a holiday. The only thing office gossips could find to say about him was that he was boring.

A year later, Richard was a regular in the casinos of London and Monte Carlo, always with at least one girl on his arm.

He was spending pounds 1,000 a night on call girls, and his staff looked on in wonder as he gave his secretary a pounds 1,500 Cartier watch on a whim.

But while his jetset lifestyle of sex and fast cars sounds like every man's fantasy, Richard says it was a nightmare that very nearly destroyed him.

After a three-year binge that saw him having sex with 100 women and punching footballer Paul Merson, Richard found himself bankrupt and in prison.

He claims that, like the upstanding Dr Jekyll of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale, an experimental drug turned him into a monster.

"I was Mr Having A Great Time. I was constantly having a party," he recalls. "I was spending money like I had a month to live.

"I didn't have to take illegal drugs because I was on a permanent cocaine-like high, addicted to thrills."

Last month Richard settled an pounds 8.5million case against the drug's manufacturer, his health authority and his consultant out of court for pounds 450,000.

He warns: "Men will think: 'Where can I go and get this drug?' but they don't want it. The fact is that I ended up broke and in a prison cell. I lost my businesses and my good character."

In 1989, Richard was entering early middle age in the same gentle manner he had lived his whole life. Dedicated to the publishing business he had built up from scratch, he never went to pubs and wore Marks & Spencer suits.

Still a virgin, he had only had two serious relationships.

"I effectively married the business. I was working all hours - starting at 7am, leaving the office at 10pm. I worked weekends."

Richard had a modest lifestyle, ploughing profits back into the company. He drove a two-year-old Mercedes and lived in a two-bedroom flat.

An unimposing five feet five inches tall, he played squash and bridge once a week. His only vice was smoking four Marlboro Lights a day. He recalls: "My life was very organised. I have all my records in alphabetical order and every hanger facing the right way.

"I wasn't troubled that I was still a virgin. I was so focused on the business and happy with that. I still thought that girls who had sex before marriage were exceptions to the rule and assumed things would happen for me eventually."

In fact, the reason for his low sex drive was a brain tumour, which dramatically reduced his testosterone levels. It slowed his development in childhood and meant he had virtually no interest in sex as an adult. "I always looked young," he says.

"When I was 13 I looked nine, when I was 16 I looked 11.

"Of course nobody knew why then, but my mother looked incredibly young so it was assumed that I had inherited her genes."

Richard, now 54, recalls: "I had my first kiss at 17, but wasn't bothered about taking it further. I am no Richard Gere lookalike, but then I had a mop of hair, big hazel eyes, and a good personality. I was pretty cute.

"I realise now there were gorgeous girls who would have happily slept with me, but it wasn't on my agenda.

"My first girlfriend, Brenda, was at 21. We went out for three years. I tried to have sex with her once, but I didn't have a clue what to do and she was naive too.

"I wasn't bothered that it wasn't successful. Sex wasn't an important feature of the relationship. The nice company was more important."

At 24 he started Parkway Publications, which produced trade and specialist magazines. By 1989 the company had a turnover of pounds 8million. But his lack of sex drive became a problem at 33, when he fell in love with an employee, Ghislaine Jeffries, then aged 22. "Ghislaine was very pretty, but to me she was like a porcelain doll.

She needed protecting like a young girl, so it would have been a violation to have sexual feelings for her.

"She wanted to consummate the relationship quite naturally, but in bed all I wanted to do was cuddle. I didn't even want to kiss."

Ghislaine told him he should want to have sex and insisted they saw a counsellor, but it solved nothing.

They stopped going out but remained very close. Richard believes had his libido been normal they would have married and had children.

It was only when he developed sinus problems in February 1989 that an X- ray showed the tumour on his pituitary gland. A specialist said it would explain his non-existent sex drive. Referred to Professor Howard Jacobs at the Middlesex hospital, Richard was prescribed first bromocriptine and then a new drug, CV205-502, to shrink the tumour. Richard insists he never knew that CV205-502 was only at trial stages and that he was not tested for suitability or warned of possible psychiatric side effects. Prof Jacobs denies this.

In 1989, no psychiatric side effects had been reported for the drug.

Today Richard believes the drugs triggered hypomania, a rare psychiatric condition whose symptoms include euphoric moods that can flip to rage, high energy levels, extrovert nature, loss of judgement, exalted self-esteem, increased sex drive and overspending. But at the time, all he knew was that it fired his personality "into orbit". He says the experience was like "being given two tons of Viagra, hit by 1000 volts and being told: 'Off you go'."

Within days of starting the drugs, Richard lost his virginity to a former employee, Frankie Stannard. The first time they had sex was in his office.

"She realised that I had not had sex - it was obvious."

Frankie became his girlfriend, but Richard's personality was still changing, and his life began to unravel.

"I started by training obsessively, spending an hour and a half every night in the gym and then using a sunbed. I was 42, training like a 19-year-old.

"How I didn't drop dead of a heart attack I don't know. Within a few months I went from being 11 and half stone to 8 stone 12 pounds. I never, ever slept. I had so much energy I didn't need to."

Richard animatedly waves his hands as he relives a typical rollercoaster day.

"I started my day at 6pm when work finished. I would go to the gym for a heavy work out.

THEN about 9pm I would have already made arrangements to meet a few girls I had met through work. God knows how. I would send a car round to pick them up.

We'd meet at Harry's Bar - a very expensive restaurant in London. After a pounds 300 dinner I'd say: 'Come on, we'll go to the casino.' I joined all the best: Claremont's, Crockfords in Mayfair. In the casino I'd say: 'Here girls, have a couple of hundred to spend.' Then either one or all of them would come home with me for sex.

"On the evenings that didn't happen, I would sleep with a high-class call girl. It cost me up to pounds 1,000 if she stayed the night.

"At 6am I'd have a shower and drive to work - in my new pounds 200,000 navy blue Bentley with tan leather seats.

"As soon as I arrived at work I would find out what companies or magazines were for sale and buy them - 'pounds 150,000? no problem', 'pounds 250,000? I'll have it'.

"I gave each of my employees a company sports car. We moved to bigger offices in fashionable Docklands. I took over a whole building - 100,000 square feet.

"Typically I would take the staff out to an expensive restaurant for lunch and then on the way back buy a couple of Yves Saint Laurent suits and a dozen CDs.

"And of course I might stop off and buy my secretary a pounds 1,500 Cartier watch, because: 'She did make me a fabulous cup of coffee this morning.'

" Richard's life spiralled further and further out of control. He found himself waking up sprawled out on toilet floors, clutching a bottle of vintage champagne and with no idea of where he had parked his Bentley or what had happened to the pounds 1,000 in his wallet. He used the flimsiest excuses to travel to Cannes, Nice and Monaco for business - either first class or in a private helicopter. Even the 500 porn videos he bought were not enough to satisfy his uncontrolled libido.

"I was going to hostess clubs where I behaved like a child in a sweet shop. You could choose the girl you wanted simply by pointing to her. There was one French girl. I bought her a pounds 2,000 diamond ring within a few days of meeting her."

He joined the Middlesex and Hertfordshire country club, patronised by footballers and page three girls.

DURING his legal case, he told the court how one night he spotted the model Maria Whittaker talking to a group of Arsenal footballers, including Paul Merson.

"Sauntering up to Maria, who was already engaged in conversation, I started to chat to her.

"It is very obvious now that her response showed I was getting on her nerves and was not at all welcome. I thought I was fantastic, and it would never have occurred to me that any one else would not think I was fantastic.

"Paul Merson then started throwing coins at me. Instead of realising that my behaviour was inappropriate and I was unwelcome, I thought he was jealous. I said to him:'After you play football, what is your real job?'

He took me by the arm and said: 'Let's go outside. I am going to hit you'."

'Sure', I said, and we went out of the nightclub onto the patio area where there was a fracas'." He shakes his head at the memory.

"Before the drugs I was never aggressive, it wasn't in my make-up. Once I tried to chat up Samantha Fox at some party in Kensington. I can't remember what I said, but she was charming.

"One of my mad fantasies was to produce Playboy in the UK. I got as far as producing a dummy copy, hired a suite at the Dorchester hotel and got a photographer, champagne, and a model to pose. "I thought I was some cool 22-year- old dude. I was so obsessed with my appearance I bought a chunky gold necklace to wear. I used to pay a woman to come round and make sure my nails were manicured."

Hard though it is to believe, through all this Frankie was still Richard's girlfriend, unaware of his activities. Did he feel guilty about constantly cheating on her? "I didn't know the difference between right and wrong. Part of hypomania is that you have no insight. If anyone questioned my behaviour I became very irritable. It was all very sad and I am not proud.

"In three years I slept with in excess of 100 women. I had sex every night. People think: 'Wow, great' but I got no pleasure."

The lifestyle couldn't last. Within six months the managers of the hostess bars started to whisper in his ear that his credit card had been refused.

"For a while I was able to juggle things. I borrowed from the bank, re- mortgaged my home, whatever it took, but in 1992 it all came crashing down.

"I didn't realise, but while I was spending money and plundering businesses I was breaching the Companies Act and committing all sorts of crimes."

The companies he had worked so hard to build up were put into compulsory liquidation by creditors and the banks, owing more than pounds 200,000.

A year later Richard was declared bankrupt. His actions resulted in two convictions for dishonesty, two suspended prison sentences and a four-day stint in Pentonville prison for assault. He was barred from being a company director for two years.

Richard said: "It wasn't a long sentence but it was such a shock I finally thought: 'What's going on with me? Why am I locked up with a man who has got 12 years for armed robbery'?"

Ghislaine had remained a loyal friend despite Richard's shocking personality change. Now she risked bankruptcy by borrowing pounds 30,000 to fund him even though he wouldn't listen to her when she questioned his behaviour.

It was she who went to Prof Jacobs in 1992 and insisted Richard be taken off the drugs. Gradually he stopped taking first CV205-502 and then eventually bromocriptine. In October that year Richard consulted a solicitor and started the long court battle against Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Camden and Islington Health Authority and Prof Jacobs. Amazingly Richard and Frankie's relationship survived the pressures.

OF course I felt incredibly guilty about what I had done to her," he says.

"When reality finally started to seep through I felt physically sick as I understood what I had been doing.

"As I started preparing the court case she learned more and more details about the extent of my sex life. Frankie was very shocked, but she never stopped supporting me. That was the sort of incredible woman she was."

Quietly he adds: "The worst thing is that Frankie is no longer here. She died of lung cancer in 1998. She was only 44.

"It hurts me that I have hurt others because it flies in the face of who I was and who I am. I can't forgive myself and I have never got over it.

"Thank God that for three or four years I was able to be the model boyfriend and do all I could to make it up, but there wasn't enough time."

Radiotherapy and surgery treated the tumour and Richard assumes his libido is now normal. He is working on a secret new business idea, but he hasn't had a serious girlfriend since Frankie and is still on anti-depressants. When his case finally came to court this year, he reached an out-of-court settlement within eight days. The defendants did not admit liability.

CV205-502 is now licensed for prescription in the UK, under the trade name Norprolac, and patients are warned of possible side effects.

Prof Jacobs says:"I believe I treated Richard Davis in an exemplary fashion. I paid no money to him as part of the out-of-court settlement and the fact that he chose not to continue his action against me vindicates me."

Richard is now trying to rebuild his life. He would do anything to change the past, and he insists he is not to be envied.

"My experience was not every man's dream come true, it was the worst nightmare imaginable."

CAPTION(S):

PLAYBOY: Richard flirted with Page 3 girls Sam Fox and Maria Whittaker and joined Crockfords casino; ANGELIC: Richard at age five; INNOCENT: At 33, Richard fell in love with Ghislaine, but he had no interest in sex with her; SO LOYAL: Richard's girlfriend Frankie stayed with him, but then tragically died of cancer
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 25, 2001
Words:2575
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