Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Monday, 14 April 2008 16:12 UK

Drugs 'killed woman's 20 friends'

Gemma Evans (right) and Andrea Townsend
Andrea Townsend and Gemma Evans deny the charges against them

A mother has told a jury drugs have killed "about 20" friends, including her teenage daughter - who died of a heroin overdose - and her husband.

Andrea Townsend, 46, has denied she took a risk with the life of her daughter Carly, 16.

She and her daughter Gemma Evans, 25, of Llanelli, deny manslaughter of Carly through gross negligence.

Ms Townsend told Swansea Crown Court Carly's father died after overdosing on the heroin substitute Palfium.

She also said Carly had been hospitalised twice for heroin overdoses before she died, and that Carly's sister had once collapsed after taking heroin and had to be saved by paramedics.

During cross-examination by Paul Thomas QC, prosecuting, Townsend was asked if any of her friends had died from heroin overdoses.

"About 20," she replied.

Mr Thomas said: "Can we take it then that you know that heroin can kill people?"

Ms Townsend replied: "Yes."

Mr Thomas put it to the defendant: "You lost your husband, nearly your daughter and 20 friends to heroin, in those circumstances why did you take any chances at all when you saw Carly had been affected by heroin?"

She replied that she had seen Carly in far worse states than the one she was in on the night she died.

Custody fear

Ms Evans declined to enter the witness box to give evidence on her own behalf.

Earlier, the court was told neither called an ambulance to their home on Bassett Terrace on 2 May, 2007, because they did not think Carly's life was in danger.

Giving evidence, Ms Townsend said Carly had been released from a secure unit in Neath 10 days before her death.

Mrs Townsend said she knew Carly had taken heroin but that she did not tell anyone in authority because she feared they would take Carly back into custody.

Mrs Townsend was asked by defence barrister Ian Murphy QC whether she thought her daughter's life was at risk from the heroin overdose.

She replied: "No."

Asked what the worst thing that could have happened, if she had called an ambulance for Carly, she replied: "She'd have gone back into custody but if I thought her life was in danger I would rather have seen her there."

The jury was sent home for the day.


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