From Vogue model to crack addict

A FORMER model told yesterday how she was plucked from council estate obscurity to catwalk glamour - and ended up with a deanna-ashby£600-a-day drug habit.

Deanna Ashby was talent-spotted at the age of 15 and became a top fashion model in the 1980s.

She was photographed by celebrity snapper Mario Testino and featured in Italian Vogue.

And her likeness to Princess Stephanie of Monaco even meant she was mistaken for royalty.

But party girl Deanna enjoyed the high life too much. She spent 27 years battling heroin and crack cocaine addiction before quitting the modelling business and fleeing to Scotland.

She is now living in a two-bedroom rented flat in a deprived area of Glasgow’s east end and fighting a custody battle over her threeyear-old daughter.

Deanna has told her story to the Record to warn others about the dangers of drugs.

The mum-of-three said: “The two reasons I’m not dead now are probably because I had the money to pay for the drugs and I had to look after my children.

“At the height, I would say I was spending £600 a day on drugs for two years. I was the ultimate party girl - the life and soul of the party.

“My mum, who is the kindest woman in the world, told me I wasn’t her daughter any more.

“I want people to know how horrible it is.”

Deanna was 15 and living on a London council estate when her mum sent a photo of her to a competition to find new modelling talent being run by 19 magazine.
deanna ashby Image 4

Weeks later, she answered the phone and was told she had got through to the last six.

Within months, Deanna was jetting all over the world, taking part in photoshoots with model Nick Kamen and appearing on giant billboards to promote boxer shorts by leading designer Paul Smith.

She was a regular in London’s top clubs and was often mistaken for Princess Stephanie.deanna-ashby

Deanna said: “On one occasion, one of Princess Stephanie’s bodyguards paid me to pretend I was her, wearing the same clothes to fool the Press.

“It worked, but I felt bad when an old lady curtseyed to me in the street.

“I wanted to say to her, but it would have blown my cover as soon I spoke with my Cockney accent.”

When Deanna was 18, a bag of cocaine was left for her on the bed of a Milan hotel room.

She didn’t know what it was at first. But after dabbling in the drug, she quickly became hooked.

Deanna, 45, said: “I got a really nasty habit. My nose ended up falling apart as a result and my veins are shot.

“I was always thin, but the girls there were thin, thin, thin.

“Most of them didn’t eat. The girls who picked at bits of salad would all go and be sick in the toilets afterwards.

“It was a different world. In eight months of working, I had £21,000 in the bank, which was a lot of money back then.

“I was a size eight, but they’d say, ‘Deanna, you need to get a bit of weight off’.
deanna ashby Image 2

“When I did, I got more work.” Deanna fell deeper into drugs and became trapped in a cycle of smoking crack cocaine and injecting heroin.

She said: “Now I think back on it, it is crazy.

“It was like a twin habit. I used to smoke crack to get high and then take smack to get down.

“It used to just be coke but then one night someone sprinkled some powder over my coke.

“That turned out to be heroin and that was me.”

At the height of her drugs habit, Deanna once smoked £1000 worth of crack in one evening.

She said: “I had crack psychosis and could see rats running across the floor. It makes your throat close up so the only thing you can do is suck an ice cube. Because of it, I now have severe asthma.”

Most of Deanna’s veins have collapsed because she injected them with heroin so often.

She added: “The combination of smack and cocaine in the syringe is called a snowball.

“People who take drugs often say they’ll never put a needle in their arm. But after a while it doesn’t work, you don’t get the same hit and the only way of doing it is through the bloodstream.

“It gives you the most unbelievable high and if you try it once, you want another one.

“So my advice is never to try any of it.”

As a top fashion model for the agency Models One, Deanna flew all over the world for photoshoots.

She did catwalk shows in Tokyo, New York and Milan and earned thousands of pounds for catalogue work.

Deanna also won a contract with L’Oreal and flew to Egypt and Kenya to take part in shoots for Freemans catalogue.

Her earnings meant she had the cash to buy top-of-the-range cars and a flat in trendy Ladbroke Grove in west London.

She was a regular at all the best parties and nightclubs and she featured in the gossip pages of newspapers.

Deanna even flew to Amsterdam once to buy specially cut diamonds.

When she fell pregnant with daughter Gemma at the age of 22, she quit the catwalk and became head booker for Models One.

Gemma’s dad is Karl Adams, the former Haircut 100 pop manager. A year after Gemma was born, the couple had another daughter, Zoe.

Even with two young children, Deanna’s career flourished.

She was in charge of bookings for top models including Jerry Hall and Naomi Campbell.

She also worked alongside her pal Davina McCall on the men’s booking desk.

Deanna, who was known as “the mouth from the south” because of her strong accent, said: “I loved being a booker and did it for about six years. I travelled to different countries and ended up running the desk.”

But while Deanna was doing well at work, her drug addiction was getting worse.

She ended up selling almost every material object she owned - including her diamonds from Amsterdam - to fund her habit.

Deanna had spells of rehab in the Priory and Clouds, the addiction clinic where Paula Yates sought refuge after the death of her partner Michael Hutchence.

But after she was released each time, Deanna went back on the drugs.

Eventually, she ended up in a Christian rehab centre in the Midlands where she met and married Glaswegian Ronnie Fullerton.

They settled in Reading, Berkshire, where Deanna fell pregnant with her youngest daughter, now three.

The family moved to Scotland to be closer to Ronnie’s family when their daughter was a baby.deanna-ashby
deanna ashby Image 3

The tot is currently living with her grandmother and father.

There is a custody hearing next month where Deanna hopes to win back her daughter.

The former model has been off heroin and crack for 18 months. She takes methadone to keep her on the straight and narrow.

Now, she wants to warn others about the dangers of addiction.

Deanna said: “Every day, when you feel down and want to go back there, you have to fight it. I think it is an illness I have.

“Now I spend all my money on filling my freezer with food and getting electricity cards. There is no money left for other things.”

She added: “I feel I have made mistakes but I’m where I am supposed to be.”

“I am lucky to be alive.

“I believe it is God who has kept me here.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image