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The Daily Mail
07:35am 26th July 2006
Dr Peter Rowan (L) and Patricia May (R)
A Priory hospital doctor persuaded a wealthy patient to change her will, leaving him a £1.5 million legacy after prescribing her a ‘hazardous’ cocktail of drugs, an inquest was told today.
Mayfair millionairess Patricia May exchanged “kisses and cuddles” with her psychiatrist Dr Peter Rowan and gave him £150,000 worth of “gifts” in the months leading up to her death, it was alleged. When the spinster died in hospital aged 66 after a fall at her Mayfair home, the leading psychiatrist was named as the main beneficiary of her £2.2 million estate. Westminster Coroners Court was told that he had given the former model and actress an assortment of powerful drugs over a long period.
After her death, a stash of over 550 drugs was found at her flat, including tranquilizers, sleeping pills and anti-depressants, which experts for the police described as “hazardous” and highly addictive.
But Dr Rowan strongly denied the suggestion that the drugs prescribed by him had caused the pensioner’s fall in the bath in which she fractured her rib and later died.
He also denied exerting any influence on his former patient to change her will or give him cash gifts.
Friends claimed that the former debutante, who lived alone, had struck up a bizarre relationship with the eating disorder specialist, who works at the clinic made famous by a host of celebrity patients.
The inquest heard Dr Rowan had treating Miss May for anorexia over a 16 year period.
But she was said to have become “infatuated” with the private doctor, who is married with two children, during regular nighttime consultations after Dr Rowan finished his clinic at his Sloane Street office.
Her close friend, Milagros Golding told the court: “Patricia was totally infatuated by him and spoke about him the whole time.”
She added: “Patricia told me she was thinking about her will and Dr Rowan suggested writing a new one and leaving everything to him and some money to friends.”
Following her death on March 9, 2003 at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, a police investigation was launched after the executor of her will, Julie Francis, reported concerns about their “more than platonic” relationship.
Apart from £600,000 left to friends, the rest of her estate, including her £700,000 Mayfair flat was left to Dr Rowan.
Her carer Kathy Ashun told the court: “I asked her whether they were lovers or what, she said ‘Oh no, just some kissing and cuddling’.
“I said to her, ‘Do you think that he’d be interested in you if you did not have any money and she said ‘That’s what I am worried about.’ I was quite shocked by what she said.” Though police decided in April this year there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against Dr Rowan, in a highly unusual step they recommended the case to the Home Secretary who ordered an inquest.
At the time of her death, hospital doctors had not been made aware of her medication and therefore no inquest or post-mortem was held into the death, said to have been caused by a combination of the fractured rib, a pulmonary embolism and pneumonia. In addition the inquest was told that the hospital doctors who signed the death certificate were unable to be traced.
The court was told that Dr Rowan first met Miss May in 1987 when she weighed just over five stone, through a family friend following the death of her property magnate father Philip from prostate cancer.
Psychiatrist experts consulted by the police criticised Dr Rowan for prescribing “hazardous” doses, failing to make notes at the time and failing to alert her GP to his prescriptions.
The hearing was also told that though Miss May suffered breathing problems, pills prescribed by Dr Rowan suppressed her respiratory system. But the doctor who formally worked at St George’s Hospital in London, claimed that he was acting in her best interests and was unable to consult her GP on Miss May’s instructions.
He said: “I never at any stage used any influence on Patricia to give me either gifts or to leave me things in her will.
“I personally had no reason to believe that she was infatuated, of course I knew she was fond of me and of course we had a close relationship over 16 years in which I counselled her and did my best to help her.
“I still think that the clinical judgement taken was correct, with respect to her well-being and her health. I think it’s extremely unlikely that it played any significant part in her end.”
Westminster Coroner Dr Paul Knapman adjourned the hearing until next month.
My thoughts, unethical and rather odd. If I was a member of the family I would challenge it in court.