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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Anger over lighter fuel sentence
Gordon Hampsay
Hampsay pleaded guilty to the offence
A teenager who admitted supplying lighter fuel to his girlfriend - even though he knew it could endanger her life - has been admonished by a High Court judge.

Fallon Harrigan, 16, died after inhaling the butane gas through her mouth.

The sentence imposed on Gordon Hampsay, 19, from Linwood near Paisley, has been criticised by charities working to reduce the number of deaths from volatile substance abuse.

At the High Court in Forfar, Lord Bonomy said this was a highly unusual case.

Lighter fuel
Lighter fuel is easily and legally available

Miss Harrigan fell unconscious after twice breathing the butane gas at her home in Paisley.

Lord Bonomy said he accepted that Hampsay had turned his life around as a result of the terrible tragedy.

He said no useful purpose would be served by imposing even a supervision order on the teenager.

However, the sentence - the lightest available to a court - has been criticised by campaigners.

Ralph MacGregor of the charity Re-Solv, which works to highlight the problem of volatile substance abuse, said people must realise butane gas can be lethal.


He called on the government to change the law on the supply of lighter fuel, which he said claims the lives of 80 young people in Britain each year.

Those who have been killed by butane gas include Lee O'Brien, from Methil in Fife.

The 16-year-old, who had just started a new job, died earlier this year.

John O'Brien
John O'Brien wants tougher restrictions on lighter fuel

His body was found by his girlfriend Gina Ironside in the home they were setting up together.

She is determined that something positive may come from his death.

Lee's father John is campaigning to have the law changed to make it more difficult for youngsters to kill themselves.

He said: "If a drug dealer was standing on a corner selling drugs the police and politicians would do something about it.

"But because this is a legal substance they are standing back and they are doing nothing.

"In the meantime our children are dying."

Mr O'Brien - who is also critical of the sentence imposed on Hampsay - is setting up a charity to help the family's campaign.

Home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson reports
"Gordon Hampsay and two of his friends buzzed butane"
See also:

07 Mar 02 | England
Death warning over solvent abuse
21 Jan 02 | Scotland
Two killed by butane abuse
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