When Debra Newell first met John Meehan she thought she’d found the perfect man.
He was 55 years old, six foot two and he had the kind of good looks you’d associate with an old-school Hollywood heart throb.
John, an anaesthetist, had just spent a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders, but all he wanted to do was listen to Debra. To hear about her life, to empathise when she spoke about the struggles she faced with her listless daughters.
To John, Debra was the most fascinating woman in the world. And he was exactly what was missing from her life.
Watch the trailer for Netflix’s Dirty John. Post continues after video…
Within a few weeks they moved in together. Less than two months later, they married in secret.
Debra would later find out that John was a compulsive liar, a manipulator who had a history of taking advantage of vulnerable women and stealing their money.
He was a monster, wrapped up in an appealing package.
This is the story behind Wondery’s hit 2017 podcast, Dirty John. When it hit the podcast charts almost two years ago, thousands of people around the world immediately became engrossed in the story about a master manipulator and the woman he almost ruined.
Now, the story has been adapted for the small screen and picked up by Netflix in Australia. It drops on the streaming service this week.