Page last updated at 10:55 GMT, Wednesday, 24 September 2008 11:55 UK

Inquest to warn of drug dangers

Nigel Meadows (pic: MEN Syndication)
Mr Meadows hopes the pupils will learn from their day in court

A coroner has invited pupils from a Manchester high school to an inquest to warn them about the dangers of drugs.

Manchester Coroner Nigel Meadows is taking the unusual step over his concerns about the number of young people being killed by drugs.

The girls from Whalley Range High School are hearing evidence at the inquest into the death of a 20-year-old woman who died of an overdose.

Mr Meadows said the woman's family had supported the idea.

Manchester Coroner's Court hears about two or three drug-related death cases every month.

Although inquests are public court hearings, they are rarely attended by anyone other than family members and witnesses.

They see how drugs blight their lives, sadly, before they die
Nigel Meadows

Mr Meadows said by inviting pupils they would get to hear about the wider dangers associated with drug use.

"It's an opportunity to inform and educate them because they see a real case, involving a real life and a real death.

"They see how drugs blight their lives, sadly, before they die.

"They see the effect it has on friends and family and learn about the dangers of drugs that they would never have appreciated before."

Although Mr Meadows tried a similar project in his previous coroner job, it is the first time such a scheme has been introduced in the city.

"Every family that I've tried this kind of thing in the past for is supportive," he added.

"They want to see, as it were, the silver lining to the dark cloud."

If successful, the coroner hopes that other schools will show an interest in sending pupils to future inquests.

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