A TEENAGER plunged to his death from a fourth-floor window after taking a powerful hallucinogenic drug.
Rikki Green, 17, smoked salvia, a legal high, through a bong before jumping out of the window of the Pelham Place flat moments later.
An inquest on Wednesday heard he suffered severe brain damage and died a week later on June 6, following the incident on May 30. At the hearing, Coroner Alan Craze warned against the potential dangers of taking legal highs like salvia.
He said: “There is risk involved in taking substances like these and it would seem salvia poses a considerable risk. The effect is almost immediate, taking over the subject, who then appears not to know what he is doing at all. Literature on salvia indicates that horrible perceptions can take place.
“In many countries and in quite a number of states in the USA its use is prohibited.”
Salvia divinorum, also known as Diviner’s Sage, is a psychoactive plant which can induce dissociative effects and produces visions and other hallucinatory experiences. It is native to Mexico.
The inquest heard Rikki, a roofer, took the drug at Nicholas Ford’s flat after being given it.
The teenager, who lived in San Juan Court, Eastbourne, met Mr Ford, together with his friend Keith Andrew at The Cutter pub in the Old Town in Hastings.
Mr Ford said: “Within 10 seconds after he (Rikki) took salvia he slumped backwards in his chair. He then started walking around the flat before lying down on the floor in the hallway. I asked if he was okay and Keith said to leave him alone, so as not to panic him. We assumed he was going to the toilet.
“I heard the door to my bedroom move so I went through and saw his feet disappear out of the window.”
Rikki’s aunt, Dawn Knight, criticised Mr Ford and his friend for leaving the teenager in the hallway. She said he should have been supervised.
She also criticised the pair for not calling for an ambulance when they realised he was nowhere to be seen.
Mr Ford apologised to Rikki’s family, saying he had never been back to the flat since the tragedy and added he was undergoing counselling over the trauma.
Mr Andrew gave a different account, saying he believed that Rikki was in the kitchen, rather than the bedroom.
He added he could not believe Rikki could have gone out through his friend’s bedroom window because it was very small.
“I was in complete shock and by the time we got downstairs there was already an ambulance outside,” Mr Andrew told the inquest.
Detective Constable Daryl Donoghue, of Hastings CID, said: “The two men who Rikki was with should have supervised him but did not. Salvia is similar to LSD and is a hallucinogenic drug but is legal to buy.
Mr Craze recorded a verdict of death by non-dependent abuse of drugs.
After the inquest Paula Moor, Rikki’s mum, said she was not satisfied with the outcome and disputed witnesses’ accounts. She told the Observer she will be appealing against the verdict.