Solvent abuse warning after girl's death

A STARK warning about the dangers of solvent abuse has been issued to parents following the tragic death of an 11-year-old girl.Charlotte Henshaw was found dead in the bunk bed she shared with her nine-year-old sister at their home near Newmarket.

A STARK warning about the dangers of solvent abuse has been issued to parents following the tragic death of an 11-year-old girl.

Charlotte Henshaw was found dead in the bunk bed she shared with her nine-year-old sister at their home near Newmarket.

Lesley Johnson, 36, of Westhorpe in Burwell, was unable to wake her daughter when she went into her bedroom at 8am on Tuesday.

It is thought the youngster may have died of the fumes from an aerosol can which was found on her pillow.


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The death has prompted warnings to parents and children over the dangers of solvent abuse.

Chip Somers, who runs Focus, a drug rehabilitation centre in Bury St Edmunds, said: "Of all the drugs that people can take, solvents have to be the most dangerous.

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"They come in many different forms, from lighter fluid to deodorant. Not only are they all readily accessible to anyone wanting to get their hands on one, they are also cheap, and are the ones that cause the most damage."

Solvent abuse kills ten times as many people as ecstasy. It is reported to be particularly popular among youngsters, with nine out of 10 users aged between 14 to 17.

Mr Somers said: "People using drugs are putting substances in their systems that have no reason to be there at all.

"Solvent abuse of any kind is highly dangerous. People do it because it gives a guaranteed high, but it is something that appears to be more favourable among young people, whose internal organs are still developing and are much more vulnerable.

"There is a high risk of damaging the back of the throat and lungs, but anyone using solvents is going to do themselves some sort of damage, there is no question about that."

Mr Somers added that the more people who are aware of the risks, the better. "This should serve as a warning to everyone," he said.

Last night Ms Johnson was too upset to talk about her daughter, but her partner, Brian Rippingale, said: "She was happy, bubbly, thoughtful, and very well liked.

"She had just come top of her science group at St Felix Middle School, in Newmarket, and she was well loved at school."

Mr Rippingale went to Charlotte's bedroom to kiss her and her sister, Sasha, goodnight at around 10.15pm on Monday.

"The last thing she said to me was 'good morning', because she liked to say things the wrong way round," he said.

"She is a really special, beautiful girl, and I cannot believe she is gone."

An inquest into Charlotte's death was opened yesterday.

The funeral service will be held on Thursday February 24 in All Saints Church, Newmarket, at 11am.

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