Contaminated ecstasy leaves girl in coma

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The Independent Online
JOHN MCKIE

An 18-year-old student was critically ill last night after taking a contaminated Ecstasy tablet at her 18th birthday party.

Leah Betts, a chemistry, biology and psychology student at Basildon College, was on a life support machine. She collapsed at the party at her home in Latchingdon, near Maldon, Essex, just after midnight yesterday.

Doctors at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, put her on a ventilator after a scan indicated that her brain was swollen.

Her mother, Janet, had given her daughter the kiss of life after she collapsed. Mrs Betts is a nurse, whose job involves speaking about the dangers of drugs to schoolchildren around the country.

Leah's father Paul, 49, is a retired Metropolitan policeman. He and his wife were at the party for about 20 young people, specifically for the purpose of preventing anyone taking drugs.

Mrs Betts said last night: "She was sick and I realised she had taken drugs as soon as I saw the size of her pupils."

Her husband added: "We have both warned her repeatedly. 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. One pounds 10 tablet could end her life. What sort of a buzz is that for God's sake?

"She's 18. I don't know whether she is going to see 19."

Police warned the tablet was probably one of a contaminated batch which Leah bought at a Basildon discotheque on Saturday. The tablets have a distinctive apple motif and are an off-white colour.

Four teenagers were being questioned by police about alleged drugs offences.

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

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