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1995: Ecstasy pill puts party girl in coma

VIDEO : Ecstasy pill leaves girl critically ill

An 18-year-old student is on a life-support machine after taking an ecstasy tablet at her 18th birthday party.

Leah Betts from Latchingdon in Essex collapsed four hours after swallowing the pill which police believe may have been contaminated.

Ms Betts' mother, Janet, found her slumped in the bathroom and gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after she stopped breathing.

Hospital tests later showed the teenager's brain had swollen after taking the drug and doctors said her condition was critical.

Both her parents had remained in the house during the party specifically for the purpose of stopping any drug taking.

Mrs Betts is a nurse, whose job involves warning schoolchildren about the dangers of drugs.


"There's a dealer out there selling poison"

Det Constable Ian Shead

Mr Betts, a retired Metropolitan policeman, said they had warned their daughter repeatedly about the dangers of drugs.

"If people could only see my daughter - just look at this pretty 18-year-old who is flat on her back and can't even breathe - they would never take a drug again."

Four teenagers have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Police warned the tablet was probably one of a contaminated batch which Leah bought at a nightclub in Basildon on Saturday.

Detective Constable Ian Shead said: "There's a dealer out there selling poison. We suggest someone shops him before someone else ends up in hospital or dead."

The tablets have a distinctive apple motif and are an off-white colour.

Ecstasy has already been blamed for the deaths of more than 50 young people in the UK.

The last victim was 17-year-old Daniel Ashton, who died after buying a tablet during a night out in Blackpool in September.

In Context
Leah Betts died three days later without ever regaining consciousness.

Her parents have since become high-profile anti-drugs campaigners.

An official inquest later revealed Leah had not died directly from ecstasy, but from drinking a large quantity of water to counteract the drug's dehydrating effects.

She apparently drank seven litres of water in 90 minutes which caused water intoxication and led to the swelling and permanent damage of her brain.

In December 1996 two 18-year-old friends of Leah Betts were tried for supplying her with the tablet.

One admitted the charge and was given a two-year conditional discharge.

The case against the other, who denied the charges, was dropped after two juries failed to agree on a verdict.

Critics of the prosecutions of the two youths said the Crown Prosecution Service should have concentrated its efforts on the dealer who sold the drug and was believed to have fled the country.


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