Page last updated at 14:54 GMT, Friday, 18 April 2008 15:54 UK

Heroin death sister found guilty

Gemma Evans (R) and Andrea Townsend
Andrea Townsend [L] and Gemma Evans were both found guilty by a unanimous verdict

A woman has been found guilty of manslaughter through gross negligence after her teenage half-sister died of a heroin overdose.

Gemma Evans, 25, of Llanelli, had denied the charge after the death of Carly Townsend, 16, but was found guilty by a Swansea Crown Court jury.

Andrea Townsend, 46, of Llanelli - the mother of both - was also found guilty by a unanimous verdict the day before.

The mother and daughter were released on bail and will be sentenced in May.

The court heard that the pair knew the teenager had taken heroin, but put her to bed instead of calling an ambulance.

They then went to watch Emmerdale on TV after putting Carly to bed.

Townsend said she believed her daughter would "sleep it off".

During the two-week trial the jury heard that on 2 May last year Carly had bought three bags of heroin.

Overdose

The court was told Townsend and Evans knew she had taken the drug and in the early evening she was showing signs of an overdose as her lips had turned blue and she was drifting in and out of consciousness.

The prosecution said her half-sister had helped Carly buy the drugs and she and her mother "took a risk" with her life by not seeking medical help.

The jury had been told that that Townsend and Evans feared they and Carly would get into trouble.

Prosecutor Paul Thomas said they owed Carly a duty of care and their actions amounted to gross negligence.

The defence case was that the pair did not believe Carly was in danger and that she would "sleep off" the effects of the class A drug.

Townsend told the jury Carly had been hospitalised twice for heroin overdoses and she had seen her daughter in far worse states than the one she was in on the night she died.

Drug deaths

She also told the court that "about 20" of her friends had died through drugs, including her husband, who was Carly's father.

She said her husband had overdosed on the heroin substitute Palfium, while Carly's half-sister had once collapsed after taking heroin and had to be saved by paramedics.

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

The court was told that Carly was released from a secure unit in Neath 10 days before her death, and her mother said she did not tell anyone in authority her daughter had taken heroin because she could have been returned to custody.

A spokesman for the Swansea Local Safeguarding Children's Board said a review into Carly's death had begun.

"This is a very sad and tragic loss of a young life," he said.

"Under Welsh Assembly Government guidance the Local Safeguarding Children's Board undertakes a case review whenever a child dies and abuse or neglect is suspected.

"The review has already begun, involving South Wales Police, Swansea Council, Carmarthenshire County Council and the NHS.

"The review will examine the circumstances leading up to Carly's death and whether there are any lessons to be learned."




SEE ALSO
Mother guilty over heroin death
17 Apr 08 |  South West Wales
Drugs 'killed woman's 20 friends'
14 Apr 08 |  South West Wales


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