Page last updated at 13:01 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 14:01 UK

Drug ban plea after student dies

Hester Stewart
Hester Stewart was studying molecular medicine at the University of Sussex

The mother of a 21-year-old student who died after taking the drug GBL has called for an inquiry into why the substance has not been banned.

Police are investigating whether Hester Stewart, from Brighton, unknowingly took the drug. She died on Sunday.

GBL is illegal in many countries but has not been banned in Britain.

A Home Office spokesman said the government accepted there was harm associated with the misuse of GBL and was looking at options for control.

But Miss Stewart's mother, Maryon, said: "I'm absolutely devastated I've lost my daughter. She wasn't the kind of girl who would risk her life.

I know my daughter would have wanted me to make others aware of the dangers
Maryon Stewart

"There should be a formal inquiry to find out why it's been banned in Canada and America, but the UK cannot get its act together and ban it for personal use.

"I'm in a state of shock. I know my daughter would have wanted me to make others aware of the dangers and make her death more meaningful if that's even vaguely possible."

Mrs Stewart added: "She was the most caring, beautiful, intelligent, warm, wonderful girl you could ever wish to meet."

Sussex Police are investigating whether Miss Stewart, a student of molecular medicine at Sussex University, unknowingly took the drug during an evening out with friends in Brighton.

'Outstanding and talented'

The Home Office evidence showed its misuse was low, but "we are concerned that its use appears to be increasing".

"GBL has a number of legitimate uses, such as cleaning agents, paints and nail polish, and we will consult with the chemical industry and the wider public over the coming months," the spokesman added.

A post-mortem examination is being held with toxicology results expected in the coming week.

On Wednesday, Dr John Armstrong, head of biochemistry at Sussex university, said students and staff were shocked and saddened at Miss Stewart's death.

He said: "She was an outstanding and talented student on track to get a first class honours degree and was preparing to apply to medical school.

"She also found time to act as a mentor for younger students. She was outgoing, charming and universally popular and she will be greatly missed by many in the university community."

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