Mother of drug dealer whose MDMA  killed a teen girl, 15 said ‘his smile his coming back’

Two mothers who struck an unlikely friendship after losing their two children to drugs appeared on this Morning today.  

Kerry Roberts’s daughter Leah Hayes, 15, died after taking MDMA in May 2019, in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, supplied by by Connor Kirkwood, now 19.

Connor, alongside Mitchell Southern, 19, pleaded guilty to selling drugs in 2020 and was sentence to 21 months in a young offenders centre. He served six months before being released partly for good behaviour and due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Speaking alongside Kerry, Connor’s mother Tammy revealed her son, who is on the autism spectrum, had been groomed by urban County Lines gangs, who recruit young and vulnerable teens to deal drugs for them in rural areas. 

However, viewers felt Tammy talking about how her son was smiling and studying after being released from a young offenders institute was insensitive to grieving mother Kerry.

Kerry Roberts’ daughter Leah Hayes died after taking MDMA in May 2019 in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. Connor Kirkwood, 17 at the time, supplied Leah with the drug that killed her. Kerry has revealed she’s become sisters in arms with his mother, Tammy  

Tammy Kirkwood appeared on This Morning alongside Kerry, and said her son's 'smile' was coming back. Connor was sentenced to 21 months in a young offenders institute, but only served six months

Tammy Kirkwood appeared on This Morning alongside Kerry, and said her son’s ‘smile’ was coming back. Connor was sentenced to 21 months in a young offenders institute, but only served six months 

Speaking first, Kerry remembered Leah as a ‘funny,’ and ‘lively,’ teen. 

‘She was full of it. She was 15, so she was quite mouthy, she was pushing boundaries, but she knew how to live and she had the best time all the time,’ she said. 

Kerry explained she got a call from Leah telling her she wasn’t feeling alright on the night of her death. 

Kerry was pregnant with another child, now two, at the time, but her partner had told her everything was normal at home, and that Leah was just going out with some friends. 

Leah, 15, took the drug while out with some friends to experiment

Connor had been groomed by county lines drug dealers from the age of 14

Leah, 15, took the drug while out with some friends to experiment. Connor had been groomed by county lines drug dealers from the age of 14

‘I wasn’t there, I was in hospital. I was pregnant with my little girl, she’s nearly two, so I wasn’t home. But my partner, he said there was nothing.

‘It was just a normal Saturday night. She had a friend in the room, music on, they were going out.

When the couple were called later and went to pick up Leah from the park, they thought she had drank too much.  

‘She was on the floor. My partner stayed in the car. Again, we thought she drank too much, and I was going to pull her to the car,’ the distraught mother recounted.  

‘I got halfway there, and I called him over. I knew something wasn’t right. I got to her, and she was pretty still, she said “Mum” so she was still conscious, but it didn’t take long for her to go,’ she added. 

‘I think she passed in the car park. As I walked into the hospital, the police, the nurses they all had their heads down so I knew,’ she recounted. 

She told Holly and Phil the pain was still very raw and that Leah’s death ‘could have happened yesterday’.

But she admitted her first thought following her daughter’s death was to be ‘angry with her.’ 

‘I was angry with her. My first thought was “Why would she do it?”,’ she said. 

‘Now I think she was just ignorant, naïve, she was 15.’

People said it was hard to listen to Tammy saying Connor was smiling again and studying, while Kerry's daughter was dead

People said it was hard to listen to Tammy saying Connor was smiling again and studying, while Kerry’s daughter was dead 

She also said that the fact MDMA was commonly called a ‘party drug’ could have attracted Leah, who might have taken it thinking she was going to have a bit of fun.  

Sitting next to Kerry on the sofa, Connor’s mother shared her side of the story, explaining how her son had been ‘groomed’ by adult drug dealer to do their bidding from 14 to 17. 

She said Connor used to be a happy-go-lucky child and loved sports, but that his behaviour changed when he was sent to boarding school aged 14. 

Worried for her son’s well-being, Tammy, who had noticed his change of mood, transferred him to the local school.  

Kerry remembered Leah as a 'funny' teen, but admitted she was naïve about drugs and possibly took MDMA because she just thought it would be a bit of fun

Kerry remembered Leah as a ‘funny’ teen, but admitted she was naïve about drugs and possibly took MDMA because she just thought it would be a bit of fun 

She said Connor’s ‘big huge smile started to fade,’ and that he lost interest in sports. 

She added Connor suffered with anxiety and adjusting, and said the drug dealing gangs prayed on his vulnerabilities. 

‘It’s kids introducing kids to these adults that are using them,’ she said. 

She recounted how police knocked on her door the night Leah died, looking for Connor.   

‘We just thought he got into a scuffle with a friend and took off from where he was,’ she said. 

Eventually, the teen returned home and Tammy called the police. She said they barged into her home and arrested him soon after.  

She said finding out Connor had played a part in Leah’s death was a ‘nightmare.’ 

‘You just go numb,’ she said, adding she thought: ‘How can my child be part of this?’

She said she had called the police on her own son several times before Leah’s death, and that Connor should have received more support from Yorkshire police. 

After his arrest, Connor was sent to a young offenders institute, but was released six months later. 

After Connor’s sentence, Kerry and Tammy were introduced to each other by police to help each other process their experience. That’s when they struck an unlikely friendship.  

‘We are two mums, we are victims in different ways, but we are both victims,’ Kerry said. ‘We want the same things.’ 

Tammy added she was very nervous when she met with Kerry for the first time, because she had a ‘lot of guilt.’ 

‘I’m the drug dealer’s mum. That’s scum of the earth, I didn’t have control of the child,’ she said, speaking of how some people might see her. 

‘We talked once a week, it just made it our story to tell each other, understand each other and it just flowed,’ she said. 

Now, both mothers are working together on a campaign called Do You Know MDMA? to warn young people of the dangers of drugs.

Kerry has launched calling for a change in the law to protect children with tougher sentences for offenders. 

Tammy said Connor was rehabilitating to normal life after his time in the young offender institute. 

‘His smile is coming back, I see glimpses of it. He’s very concentrated right now. He works 48 hours a week, he does college work at night, he goes into the gym. 

‘He’s extremely focused right now. So every once in a while, I get a glimpse of his smile. 

‘And his love of sports is coming back. But I still see he’s anxious. He’s explained to me sometimes how his body feels, how he’s anxious and his heart is pounding. So I see that vulnerability still.’

She added she worried that Connor could be lured by a gang and deal drugs again, but said all she could do was support him and hope he wouldn’t.  

This last comment did not sit well with viewers, who felt it was insensitive to Kerry, who had lost her daughter. 

‘Can’t imagine what it’s like hearing his smile is coming back while your daughter’s never will,’ one wrote.  

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