Vulnerable, Scared and Weighing as Little as Four Stone, Hundreds of Anorexia Victims Trusted Therapist David Britten to Help Them. Instead, He Turned Them into His Sex Slaves. Here, Two Reveal How He Ruined Their Lives; Victims: Carmen and Isabelle, Two of the Women Abused by David Britten, Inset
Byline: Barbara Davies
FOR nearly a decade, Isabelle Downey believed that David Britten lovedher. Admittedly, she knew their relationship was unconventional. He was herpsychotherapist at the NHS clinic where she was admitted in the early 1990ssuffering from chronic anorexia and weighing just four and a half stone. ButBritten convinced her that a sexual relationship with him was essential to herrecovery. In effect, he told her, he was saving her life.
If she resisted him, he cancelled their appointments. He isolated her fromother staff, told her he loved her, seduced her in his locked office and whenhe had her heart, sadistically toyed with it until she was driven to the pointof suicide. What Isabelle didn't know was that at the same time Britten, whowas later found to have no psychotherapy qualifications, was abusing otherfemale patients at the Peter Dally Clinic in Westminster.
'I also thought I was the only one,' says 29-year-old Carmen Wilson, anotheranorexia patient who was sexually abused by Britten for four years. 'I was sounder his spell I would have done anything to spend time with him. He was mylifeline.' Ten of Britten's victims have come forward so fartwo in the past yearbut this week it emerged that the married 53-year-old senior nurse and managerof the clinic may have abused up to 135 women in his care between 1999 and2001.
Central North West London NHS Foundation, which is investigating the matterafter a campaign by his victims, has written to some former patients, but hasno contact records for the hundreds of women who passed through Britten's handsbefore that.
In fact, Britten worked at the clinic from 1980, which leaves almost twodecades unaccounted for.
But Britten has gone unpunished.
While his victims, some still seriously ill, struggle to come to terms withwhat he did, he is believed to have fled to the Philippines with his Filipinowife, Leila, an NHS manager, not long after his deception was revealed. He hadbeen married throughout the 1990s when he was seducing his patients.
He was suspended from his post in May 2001 after two women made a complaintabout him. He resigned a few months later and was struck off in July 2004 afterbeing found guilty of eight charges of misconduct.
The NHS investigation, due to conclude this autumn, may shed light on how hemanaged to carry out horrific abuse under the noses of other doctors andnurses, but is unlikely to reveal the full extent of his despicable reign.
Crucially, no criminal charges have been brought against him.
Isabellenot her real namewas in her late teens when she arrived as a residential patient at the PeterDally clinic, situated on the edge of elegant, leafy Vincent Square in Pimlico,central London, in the early 1990s.
She weighed just four and a half stone and was confined to a wheelchair butwon't say the exact year or the age she was, for fear that it will identifyher.
She is so much in Britten's thrall that she is terrified he would contact herand destroy her fragile mental state.
'He was held up like a god,' she says.
'Everyone revered him. While he was a psychotherapist, he was also clinicmanager and so had a lot of power.
From the start, every member of staff, even the doctors, would say: "We'll haveto ask David" or "David will make a decision about that." I was in awe of himbefore I even met him.' Even at their first meeting, Britten was affectionateand tactile. 'He stroked my hair, but it didn't seem offensive or wrong. He waskind and gentle, sweet and caring. He got my trust very quickly and made mefeel as if he was the only one on my side. He was incredibly charismatic.' Anexpert manipulator, he also connived with Isabelle when she tried to resisttreatment. 'If there was something I didn't like, something I didn't want toeat, he would sort it out, even if it meant going against my medical team. …