The Daily Telegraph
18-year-old freshers’ deaths linked to drugs
Police search student flats and make 10 arrests after three Newcastle students and man die over weekend
‘This weekend we have seen the tragic loss of four young lives’
‘We’re not having a normal freshers’ experience and some people are compensating for that’
TWO 18-year-old female students, who had just started at Newcastle University, were among four people to die in the city after taking what are thought to be illegal drugs, police have said.
The girls, both freshers, were living in the same halls of residence when they became ill and died over the weekend.
Jeni Larmour, of County Armagh in Northern Ireland, who was in her first year studying architecture and town planning, was named as one of the girls.
Another student, a 21-year-old male undergraduate from Northumbria University, died over the weekend after taking what is believed to be MDMA.
A fourth death, of an 18-year-old man in Washington, Tyne and Wear, has also been linked to the effects of MDMA. Northumbria Police have made 10 arrests in connection with the deaths and have carried out searches with drug dogs at university halls of residences.
Police received a report at 6.05am on Saturday that a woman was unresponsive at a Park View Student Village flat. Miss Larmour, who moved to Newcastle from Northern Ireland in August, was pronounced dead at the scene.
An 18-year-old man, understood to be a fellow student, was arrested on suspicion of supplying a class B drug and has since been released on police bail.
The following day at 1.10pm, police were called to the same building where they found another 18-year-old woman who was pronounced dead at the scene.
An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug and released on police bail.
Police carried out a number of consent-based room searches at student accommodation with drugs dogs. Further patrols will be carried out today.
Earlier on Sunday morning, officers were called to an address in Melbourne
Street in the city centre to reports that a 21-year-old student from Northumbria University had taken ill.
The victim, who is thought to have taken a quantity of MDMA, was taken to hospital, but died a short time later.
A 20-year-old man held on suspicion of supplying class A drugs was bailed.
The fourth suspected drug death occurred on Saturday afternoon when an 18-year-old man suffered a suspected cardiac arrest at a property on Couch Road Estate, Washington. The man, who is not a university student, was pronounced dead a short time later.
Seven people arrested over the incident were released under investigation.
Chief Insp Steve Wykes said: “This weekend we have seen the tragic loss of four young lives and our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of those who have sadly died. We want to reiterate our warning against taking drugs for recreational use. The consequences could cost you your life.”
Mr Wykes said police patrols would be increased in the areas. He added: “If anyone has any information about who has supplied the drugs in question then we would also encourage them to contact us at the earliest opportunity.”
A Newcastle University spokesman said: “We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of one of our students and our welfare teams are offering support to those affected.”
There are fears that a local lockdown has led young people into dangerous thrill-seeking because their social lives have been curtailed in the North East.
Students said drugs were readily available through messaging services such as Snapchat and Whatsapp and there were rumours of a rogue batch of pills being offered around the campus.
One 18-year-old Newcastle University student said: “I didn’t know the girl involved but she could only have been here a matter of days, I only arrived on Friday. There’s been a real feeling of shock around the halls ever since, the atmosphere is very subdued.”
Another student added: “Lockdown hasn’t helped the situation. The pubs close at 10pm and people have been going back to their flat in halls to continue the party, which is what I heard happened here. We’re not having a normal freshers’ experience and some people are compensating for that.”