In the courts: pounds 1m for man who turned into sex-pest

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The Independent Online
An accountant who turned into a sex pest after suffering brain damage in a road accident was yesterday awarded almost pounds 1m in damages. Jojo Moyes details the plight of a man whose problems are now "women, women and women".

Until 1991, Peter Lawrence was as an easy-going sharp-witted "lovable fool" who never made inappropriate comments. Although he had a temper, and had made sexual advances to other women, his marriage was reasonably stable.

Now, he is an "offensive sex pest" who proposes marriage and children to women he has just met, suffers from memory loss and gives away extravagant sums of money.

Yesterday, Mr Justice May awarded him pounds 950,000 in damages after hearing that he could no longer manage his business or personal life

He had, however, become a member of Mensa, as his numeracy appeared to have improved since the accident, and had passed his advanced driving test.

Mr Lawrence, 39, from Dorset, suffered a severe head injury in the 1991 collision when he was knocked off his motorcycle. This left him with impaired memory and a change of personality caused by damage to those parts of his brain which govern behaviour, emotion and control.

The court heard that Mr Lawrence, who has since divorced, could not stop himself making "immediate and impulsive" sexual advances to women, many of whom he had met through dating agencies or newspaper adverts.

One woman testified that he had asked her to marry him several days after they met. Another said he asked her to marry him during their first telephone call and was sexually an "overforceful pest" who would not take no for an answer. She said he treated her children "wonderfully", but was like a child himself when it came to money.

Mr Lawrence attended the support group Headway, and spent much time writing letters to women - he had written 30 during the weekend before he gave evidence.

He made numerous telephone calls - his last bill was pounds 516 - mainly responding to lonely-hearts adverts.

Since his accident, Mr Lawrence had tried to get work but was dismissed from his last post, in June 1994, after he was accused of sexual harassment. A female Headway worker gave evidence that he was unemployable because of his disorganisation and smutty remarks.

He now attended a computer course and was himself, said the judge, like "a computer with a number of faults". His memory was unpredictable, he had no concept of time, and his flat was a shambles. He drove impulsively and was excessively tempted by special offers. The judge said that all these problems were caused by his injuries.

He added that Mr Lawrence, who is now a patient with his affairs administered by the Court of Protection, needed help with his daily life in the future. "He must be told when his behaviour is unacceptable ... He will tend to become eccentric and more lonely."

The damages, with costs, were awarded against the motorist's insurers. Mr Lawrence was in court accompanied by his solicitor and would only say that he was "pleased" with the judgment.