Coroner warns against drugs ‘Russian roulette’

Kate McLaughlin, Hastings girl.
Kate McLaughlin, Hastings girl.
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A CORONER is warning youngsters thinking of taking illegal drugs that they are ‘playing Russian roulette’ with their lives.

Alan Craze said teenagers experimenting with street drugs could never be sure whether they could harm them or not.

He said: “Teenagers are reliant on word of mouth but they can’t be certain on the information they are being told. It’s like Russian roulette.”

The warning comes in the wake of the death of 18-year-old Kate McLaughlin, pictured, who died on August 1 last year after taking ecstasy mixed with cough medicine.

An inquest into her death was held on Wednesday and Kate’s mum, Pauleen, of Churchill Avenue, Ore, issued a similar stark warning.

She said: “Do not experiment because you do not know what’s in it.

“Kate was a smart kid and hated alcohol and never smoked. She used to even tell me off for drinking a glass of wine.

“Kate always seemed to be the responsible one, making sure everyone was all right. She did tell me a few weeks beforehand that she had taken drugs like ecstasy. Kate was very honest with me and had researched everything about drugs on the internet. She was a member of the Socialist party, a thinker and wanted a decent world for everybody.”

Family friend Isla Dowds also warned of the dangers of drug misuse.

She said: “Research can mislead young people into thinking taking drugs is safe. It can be open to misintepretation.”

Kate was found slumped over her bed by her mum after collapsing.

The inquest heard that she had taken 20 times the normal dose of dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant known as DXM, as well as ecstasy.

DXM has been used as a recreational drug since the 1970s and its use is called ‘robotripping’. It causes excitability, confusion and difficulty breathing.

The inquest heard Kate spent a night out at The Roomz in Western Road on July 30, two days before she died.

Kate then stayed at her friend Merlin Webster’s house that night.

Her mum tried to contact her the next day (July 31) as the pair were planning a shopping trip to Tunbridge Wells. Kate replied saying she was not going shopping.

But the teenager’s mum did not see her until she discovered her body on August 1. Her movements between the previous evening and her death remain a mystery.

Kate, who was also known as Joey Holmes, was studying for her A-levels at Bexhill College and planning to go to university.

She wanted to pursue a career in forensics and study criminology.

After she died the cause of her death was unknown but it later emerged that Kate had experimented with ecstasy, also known as MDMA.

Kate’s stepfather, Neville Houghton, said: “Kate had lots of friends and was close to her mother. It was very rare for her to take any type of drug.”

Mr Craze recorded a verdict of death by non-dependent abuse of drugs.