Drugs warning after Essex teen collapses

POLICE have issued a stark reminder of the dangers of drugs after an Essex teenager - who took what is believed to be amphetamine - suffered a brain haemorrhage and was left critically ill in hospital.

By Roddy Ashworth

POLICE have issued a stark reminder of the dangers of drugs after an Essex teenager - who took what is believed to be amphetamine - suffered a brain haemorrhage and was left critically ill in hospital.

The incident happened 10 years after teenager Leah Betts died in Essex after taking an ecstasy tablet.

The 17-year-old boy from Witham, who has not been named, fell ill on Thursday night and was taken to casualty by his parents.


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Earlier in the evening he had been with a small group of teenagers, when it is thought he took the drug, commonly known as speed.

While at Broomfield Hospital his condition deteriorated seriously and he suffered the brain haemorrhage.

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At around 4pm on Friday his condition was such that he was transferred in an ambulance, with a paramedic and an anaesthetist, to Oldchurch Hospital, in Romford, which specialises in head trauma. It was at this point his parents contacted the police.

Last night he was said to be in a serious condition, although this had improved and he was reported to be off the critical list. It is still not yet known whether he has suffered any long-term damage.

Three people, including a 16-year-old girl, were arrested in connection with the incident.

Det Insp Glen Maleary, of Braintree CID, said: “It is very early days in the investigation, but regardless of the circumstances and whether there is any third party culpability, this incident should serve as a stark reminder of the devastating effects that taking drugs can have.

“Although the youngster's condition is currently stable and he has survived the traumatic events, it is too early to tell whether there will be any long-term effects, and his parents are understandably besides themselves with worry.

“Last week it was 10 years since the death of Leah Betts in Essex from a single ecstasy tablet.

“Time may have passed, and drug trends and prices may have changed, but the consequences are just as severe as they ever were.”

A police spokeswoman said it was not yet known whether the 17-year-old had taken the drug voluntarily, been forced to take it or had had a spiked drink containing it.

She also recommended parents made themselves aware of the signs of drug taking among young people, especially in the run up to Christmas with the additional number of parties and social events.

“We have a website with links to organisations with lots of advice for parents that can tell them what to look for,” she said.

A 16-year-old girl was arrested in connection with the Witham incident on suspicion of supplying a controlled substance. She was released on police bail until February 16.

A 39-year-old woman from Witham was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled drug and released on police bail until February 8.

A 21-year-old man from Halstead was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply a controlled drug. He was released on police bail until February 16.

Information about drugs can be found on www.talktofrank.com, a Government-run website.

roddy.ashworth@eadt.co.uk

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