Ban deadly ‘legal high’ says father

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THE father of a 17-year-old girl who died after taking a legal drug has made an emotive plea for lessons to be learned from her death.

In a written statement read out at the inquest into the death of Ramsey teenager Tanya Louise Hughes, her father John said the authorities must come together to stop the availability of legal highs and their exposure to youngsters.

He described his daughter as ‘a really good kid’ who would have helped anyone. He added: ‘I cannot even begin to describe the loss of Tanya and what we are going through.’

Health chiefs told the Manx Independent the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs would be considering the status of the legal high she took – MDAI – ‘as a matter of urgency’ and was expected to make its recommendation to government ‘in the next few days’.

On Tuesday, Miss Hughes’s boyfriend of nine months James McLean, aged 36, told the court he had bought 10g of the legal drug MDAI, which replicates some of the effects of Ecstasy, on the internet.

At his home in Ormly Avenue, Ramsey on April 15, he had taken some of the drug and while he did not offer any to Miss Hughes, coroner John Needham said it was ‘more likely than not’ that she had also taken some that evening.

The drug has been widely used in research and replicates many of the effects of MDMA (Ecstasy).

Mr McLean said during that evening Miss Hughes had also drunk half a bottle of vodka and a glass of wine, although Mr Needham said tests carried out after her death showed she had a ‘reasonably low’ level of alcohol in her blood.

Mr McLean said after he returned from having a shower Miss Hughes, of Gladstone Avenue, was ‘bubbly and bouncy’ before ‘calming down’ and falling asleep on the sofa.

‘All of a sudden she stopped snoring and stopped breathing,’ he said.

Mr McLean called for an ambulance at 9.26pm and it arrived three minutes later.

Ambulance technician Wayne Barton said he and his colleague found Miss Hughes had no pulse, was not breathing and was cold to touch. They attempted unsuccessfully to resuscitate Miss Hughes and after more colleagues arrived, she was transferred to an ambulance to be taken to Noble’s Hospital.

But the decision was taken on the Mountain Road to stop resuscitation attempts.

Miss Hughes, who was born in the island and was a former student of Ramsey Grammar School, was pronounced dead when she arrived at the hospital in Braddan.

A statement was read out by Jasmine Cullivan, one of Miss Hughes’s work colleagues at Zurich Global Life, in Athol Street, Douglas.

She said she remembered Miss Hughes telling her she used legal highs on a ‘regular basis’.

Mr Needham recorded a verdict of misadventure through toxicity of MDAI which was self-adminstered.

He described her death as a ‘great tragedy’, adding: ‘I certainly would recommend that MDAI is added to the list of controlled drugs so that it is not legal to obtain it.’

Mr Needham said: ‘The fact Tanya died shows the unpredicatable nature of these types of drugs.

‘It’s no exaggeration to say people dabbling in them are risking their lives.

‘That has got to be the safety message that comes out of this case.’

l The inquest also heard from police surgeon Dr Hassan Ridha who said that Mr McLean was arrested on April 15 on suspicion of manslaughter but was not charged.

At police headquarters, it was decided he was unfit to be detained or interviewed as he was suffering from hallucinations and had slurred speech.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance, where he stayed overnight for observation.

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