High on drugs and stealing anything he could get his hands on, Dave Clarke was out of control.
By the age of 20 he was a familiar face to police. Heavily influenced by his older brother, Mick, he spent much of his youth getting in trouble.
But his life took a dramatic turn when, according to Dave, Jesus spoke to him after he’d taken LSD.
Overnight he was converted to Christianity and began to change the way he lived.
Now Dave has written a book about his remarkable tale, called Converted on LSD Trip.
‘I’ve got to an age where I’ve realised what matters and what doesn’t,’ says the 62-year-old from Fareham.
‘I’ve tried to help lots of people to realise this too – some I can, some I can’t. But I hope by reading this book it will help people make the right choices in their lives.’
He recalls: ‘Mick used to mix with all the lads in school that you shouldn’t. One of his friends had a farm and they used to go up there and ride motorbikes.
‘Around the same time I got a moped. One day some boys were running around on it. I told Mick and he went and beat one of them up with a knuckle-duster he made in school.’
Mick was sent to a detention centre for three months in Buckinghamshire, where the boys grew up.
Shortly after his release, Dave was riding around the streets on a motorbike his brother had stolen for him. When that went missing, Dave simply stole another one, for which he received a two-year probation order.
At the same time Mick was caught for joyriding and sent to borstal for two years at the age of 17.
Dave inherited his brother’s Lambretta scooter, complete with crash-bars and chrome, and formed a band with his friends.
‘I became a Mod and we started getting into all kinds of stuff,’ he says.
‘Then my brother came out of borstal and that’s when all the trouble really started.’
They were caught breaking into a shop and then jailed for malicious wounding after shooting a woman in the face with an air rifle. Dave was sent to borstal for 12 months while Mick, who denied the charge, served two years in prison.
Dave says: ‘When I came out, I’d learned so much in there about how to do crime more effectively and I began a three-year stint as a professional criminal.
‘I started to mix with the most notorious lads in town. They all knew my brother, and I wanted to be like him and live up to his reputation.’
But his criminal career ended when had a bad trip on the drug LSD and ended up calling out to God.
He explains: ‘I was so desperate. I needed help and I cried out to Jesus. Then he just spoke to me.
‘He said he was with me, but what I was going through was nothing compared to Hell. And then he quoted the Bible.
‘I knew straight away that I had to give up my past and start a clean life. I’d never been religious before that. I just thought it was for boring people who didn’t know what life was about because everything I wanted to do they said was wrong. But suddenly I got it.’
But moving on from his past was not easy. He had stolen goods including two cars, a colour television, a hydraulic jack, an electric welder, two compressors, a road trailer and much more.
In a bid to put things right, he started taking the stolen goods back to the original owners, including dropping off a Mini at the forecourt of a garage he’d snatched it from the year before.
Before long the police caught up with him and he confessed to 24 crimes.
After appearing in court in 1971, Dave was issued a conditional discharge for three years and has been on the straight and narrow ever since.
He became a baptist minister in 1983 and then worked as a lecturer in electronics at Fareham College.
Meanwhile brother Mick, who had also taken acid that same night, was unaffected. He ended up in Thailand, where Dave says he conned people out of money by convincing them he was a movie producer.
He then returned to England and set up a business organising sex holidays to the Philippines, after visiting a number of prostitute bars there.
In 1996 he was convicted for promoting child prostitution – a charge he always denied, despite being caught admitting as much to an undercover ITN reporter. He was sentenced to 16 years in New Bilibid Prison.
‘He always said it was nothing to do with children and I do believe that, but we all knew what he was doing was wrong,’ says Dave.
‘He deserved to be punished for it. I shut my ear to him for three years. He would write to me but I wouldn’t reply. But when I heard he too had turned to God and had been baptised, I got back in touch with him.’
By this time, Dave had already written his first edition of Converted on LSD Trip, which ended with the brothers on very different paths. The new edition tells the tale of their paths coming together again.
The brothers then turned their focus to helping other criminals to go straight by founding an organisation called Trojan Horse International.
It operates in the Philippines, but has also been registered to carry out similar work in the UK.
Dave has put together a second book, called Trojan Warriors, which features 66 convert testimonies from convicted criminals, 22 of which were on Death Row at New Bilibid.
But the mission was cut short in 2005, when Mick died from tuberculosis – weeks before he was due to receive early release for good behaviour.
Now Dave is keen to continue the work in his honour.
He says: ‘Mick’s original release date was in December, 2010 and that’s what prompted me to carry on the mission. I want to continue the work we started. I want to do it for him, to prove his innocence and hopefully help a lot of other people too.’
n To buy Converted on LSD Trip for £12.89 or for more information on Dave’s mission, go to convertedonLSDtrip.com