A mother today issued a stark warning about the dangers of drugs after her ‘beautiful, thoughtful’ 15-year-old daughter died following her first dose of ecstasy.
Leah Heyes – also known as Elwin – took a ‘double toxic’ dose of the drug in two ‘bombs’ with the MDMA crystals wrapped in Rizla cigarette papers.
Coroner Jonathan Leach recorded a narrative verdict, saying Leah had died from MDMA toxicity, having bought and consumed the drug voluntarily.
Her mother Kerry Roberts sat tearfully through the hearing, and said today: ‘I remain as numb, lost and hurt as the day she was taken.
‘I will never be able to put into words the pain that my beautiful, thoughtful daughter has gone and I will not get to watch her grow up.
‘I hope young people will learn from what happened to Leah, me and my family and will stop taking drugs. I don’t want any other family to go through what we have gone through.’
Leah Heyes – also known as Elwin – took a ‘double toxic’ dose of the drug in two ‘bombs’ with the MDMA crystals wrapped in Rizla cigarette papers. She is pictured with her mother, Kerry
Leah collapsed on May 11 last year in Applegarth car park in Northallerton, North Yorks, after a night out with around 15 friends.
She was declared dead at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough later the same night.
Phone records found she arranged to by the drugs for just £10 and swallowed the large and fatal doses in quick succession.
Two teenager, Connor Kirkwood, 18, of Dishforth, and Mitchel Southern, 19, of Thirsk, admitted supplying the drugs that killed Leah and are due to be sentenced on Monday at Teesside Crown Court.
Following the inquest Ms Roberts, from Northallerton, spoke of her devastation.
She said: ‘Leah had never done it before. I think she wanted to try it and she got it easily. I don’t know why she didn’t tell me.
‘I think friends had a big effect on her decision that night. I think in Leah’s case it was to impress maybe one of those boys.
‘Children are dying because they don’t know, Leah has seen people doing it and getting away with it on a regular basis and she didn’t know what she was doing.
‘That really is it, she didn’t realise the dangers. Even though I thought we had spoken about things enough, there wasn’t enough to put her off.’
Ms Roberts said Leah was her best friend, had everything to live for and was really excited about the baby although she didn’t know she would have a baby sister.
Leah collapsed on May 11 last year in Applegarth car park in Northallerton, North Yorks, after a night out with around 15 friends
She said: ‘She was very bubbly, she laughed a lot, you always knew Leah was around, she was loud in a fun way, she was 15 and obviously we had our arguments but she was really loving she was like my best friend.
‘For a long time it was just me and her, we had a really good open relationship we spoke about all different drugs, not MDMA specifically though.’
The tragedy has been followed by the deaths of two other teenagers in North Yorkshire linked to MDMA.
A 14-year-old girl died in Scarborough earlier this year as well as a 15-year-old boy in York. Investigations are ongoing.
‘It is too many, it is shocking. What I want is that it doesn’t happen to anybody else,’ added Ms Roberts.
She is now working with Julia Mulligan, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire to hammer home the message.
Ms Roberts said: ‘Parents don’t know how easy it is for kids to access this and how cheap it is, when we were younger it was a bottle of alcohol but it’s cheaper than that, it is so easy to get I don’t think we know enough, people think of cannabis or cocaine, we don’t know about MDMA and we should try and find out.
‘No one thinks about it or says anything about it so it takes something bad to happen for people to take it seriously.
‘If one person listens to me and doesn’t do it, doesn’t take it that is all I want or if parents listen to me and speak to their kids and it stops even one person doing it then that is all I want, it can’t happen to somebody else, no parent should lose their child in this way.’
Commissioner Julia Mulligan fears children are dying because not enough is known and research isn’t being done. ‘People think in North Yorkshire it isn’t a problem but it is. We need to come together.
‘We need to understand how these drugs are taken, where they come from and how we disrupt the people who are dealing them.
‘There’s a lot of focus on county lines drugs, crack cocaine, heroin but there are a lot of other drugs in circulation that are causing damage and death, and I think while a lot of work has been done on county lines we need to focus on those other drugs which are causing a lot of harm and we need to understand that better.’
Leah’s baby sister, Ava, who she never had the chance to meet, is pictured laying flowers on her grave
Recording a narrative verdict at Leah’s inquest, North Yorkshire coroner Jonathan Leach said: ‘Police investigated the matter and their enquiries have shown that Leah purchased the drugs she had taken and the police and send out the message that for people to buy and take illegal drugs is a very risky business as has been shown by Leah’s death.’
He recorded the cause of death as MDMA toxicity.
The hearing was told that Ms Roberts, 36, who was pregnant with Leah’s baby sister at the time, was called to the car park by police.
PC Jack Dodsworth told the hearing that Leah had at first appeared drunk and was slurring but sank to the ground.
He said: ‘She appeared to have a seizure and became unresponsive, her eyes were staring into the distance.’
She died despite the frantic attempts of paramedics to revive her, both in the car park and on the 25 minutes journey to James Cook Hospital, where she was declared dead soon after arrival.
In her statement Ms Roberts told the inquest she had been aware that Leah had previously experimented with cannabis because she had come home ‘clearly stoned.’
She said: ‘I watched her after that because I didn’t want her to go down that path. I would limit what money she had to make it less accessible to her.’
Detective Sergeant Chris Parker-Beagrie told the hearing that Leah and 15 to 20 friends were picked up on CCTV moving around Northallerton on the night she died.
Around 50 people were interviewed about her death and the two youths charged.
He said: ‘A few days before that Saturday night Leah had been in discussion with a group of friends that they were going to take drugs that weekend.
‘Leah wanted to get MDMA with a friend. The information from her friends and her mobile phone show she purchased £10 of MDMA and took it with her friends that evening.
‘Leah willingly took the drugs in a social situation, it was a double toxic dose which took her life, sadly.
‘There were no other people involved as far as her taking the drugs was concerned.
‘After her death we joined with Public Health England to put out the message to young people ‘don’t take drugs.’