Conrad Murray’s voice softens when he recalls the moment Michael Jackson reached out, clasped his hand and said in his soft falsetto voice: ‘There are only four people in my family now. Paris, Prince, Blanket and you, Dr Conrad.’
It was, the 60-year-old doctor recalls: ‘one of the happiest days of my life. This man who had been so lonely, who had spent so many long nights telling me about his pain and anguish, finally felt he could trust someone in his life apart from his children.
‘We were family. We loved each other as brothers.’
The remarkable exchange took place in Jackson’s private suite of five rooms on the second floor of his rented £60,000-a-month Beverly Hills mansion. It was an area closed to all except the singer’s three children and Dr Murray – his personal physician and private confidante.
Murray says: ‘Michael trusted no one. The bed chamber smelled because he did not even let maids in there to clean. There were clothes strewn everywhere.
‘Then he looked at me and said, “You know, for the rest of your life and my life our names will become inseparable.”
‘I asked him, “Michael, what do you mean?” and he smiled and said, “I am clairvoyant.” ’
Maybe he was. This brief but intense relationship has all but destroyed Murray’s life and almost certainly defines it.
The heart surgeon, released from prison three weeks ago after serving half of a four-year sentence for killing pop superstar Jackson with an overdose of intravenous sedative, maintains he was not responsible for Jackson’s tragic death.
And, in his first-ever interview, he remains unrepentant. ‘I never gave Michael anything that would kill him,’ he says tersely. ‘I loved him. I still do. I always will.’
At a bulky 6ft 5in, Murray is a bear of a man, though he claims to have lost more than two stone in prison and says he feels ‘every one of my 60 years’. Despite his public disgrace, he has huge charm and the self-assured authority – some might say bombast – of a physician whose lucrative private practice turned over more than £2.3 million a year.
Jackson’s prediction to the doctor was, indeed, prophetic.
Two weeks after their moving conversation, Murray stood over the singer’s skeletal body as his friend lay dead on a metal trolley in a hospital emergency room.
And in what he now calls the ‘utter nightmare’ that followed the King of Pop’s death, Murray was charged with giving the lethal injection of the anaesthetic propofol that caused Jackson’s heart to stop, found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, stripped of his medical licence and sentenced to four years in jail.
In a vivid and compelling exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Murray opens what he calls the ‘floodgates of pain’ as he talks for the first time about his intimate friendship with Jackson: ‘You want to know how close we were? I held his penis every night to fit a catheter because he was incontinent at night.’
For more than five hours, in a voice still thick with the lilting tones of his native Trinidad, in a faceless hotel room in southern California he tells about Michael’s perilous physical, mental and financial state and the singer’s secret addiction to prescription drugs.
And he describes in shocking detail the full horror of Jackson’s physical and mental descent ‘into the abyss’ as he fought to cope with the pressure of preparing for his This Is It comeback concerts at London’s O2 arena: ‘By the end, Michael Jackson was a broken man.
‘I tried to protect him but instead I was brought down with him.’ Most poignantly, he talks about the tragic events of June 25, 2009, the last day of Michael’s Jackson’s life.
It is clearly a subject he still finds distressing. Murray’s eyes fill with tears. ‘This is so painful,’ he says stifling a sob.
‘It’s difficult when you ask me about Michael. There’s a void in my heart, a lingering pain. I miss him every day.’
Murray says that when he first began working with Jackson in 2006, he had no idea that the superstar used propofol to help him sleep.
But when he arrived in LA three years later to help him prepare for his comeback, he discovered that Michael had a personal stash of it.
‘He told me there were doctors in Germany that gave it to him. I didn’t agree with this at all, but Michael wasn’t the kind of man you can say no to. He would always find a way.
‘So I acquired propofol and gave it to him over a two-and-a-half month period as I weaned him off it, which I finally achieved three days before he died.
‘He begged me for the drug because he wanted to sleep, because then he didn’t have to think. He was in crisis at the end of his life, filled with panic and misery.
‘I would sit with him when he was on a propofol drip. It’s a very fast-acting drug that disappears from the body quickly. Fifteen minutes after the drug is administered, it’s gone. I gave him very light, light sedation.’