`Drugs overdose' killed girl, 15, on Christmas night

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The Independent Online
A GIRL aged 15 died on Christmas night after a suspected drugs overdose. If the cause of death is confirmed, Kerry-Ann Kirk, from Coatbridge, Strathclyde, would be the youngest drug victim of 1999 in a region that has seen a 50 per cent rise in drug-related deaths in the past year.

She is thought to have died from an overdose of the heroin substitute methadone. Her body was found at the house of a school friend, where she had been at a party, on Boxing Day.

Her mother, Marie Kirk, 39, said yesterday: "It's unbelievable. She was always in for 11 o'clock. I knew they would have something or other at the party but I thought it would be something like [the alcopop] Hooch."

She added: "Kerry had nothing to do with drugs - she hated them. If there were drugs involved I would take it that someone put them in her drink or something like that. I do not think she would have taken drugs."

Mrs Kirk said her older children, Gary, 17, and Cheryl, 12, were shocked by the tragedy but the younger ones, aged three and three months were too young to understand. "All Gary could say about it was, `It's disgraceful, it's disgraceful'. Cheryl was screaming and saying, `You just don't die on Boxing Day'," she said.

Seven other people have died in separate drug-related incidents in Strathclyde over the Christmas period, bringing the total for the year to 146, up from 100 last year. A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said most of the recent deaths were linked with heroin, although they were widely spread geographically and were unlikely to be caused by a bad batch of the drug.

Kerry-Ann had left her parents' home at about 7pm on Christmas night to attend the party at the home of a friend. The friend's father, Kevin Stack, said yesterday that he and his wife had supervised the party and seen nothing untoward happening. "We were keeping an eye on things and didn't see any drugs or anything like that," he said.

Mr Stack said that around midnight he told youngsters it was time to go home. "We thought that Kerry-Ann had already gone because we didn't see her. It was about 1pm the next day that we found her in the bedroom. Someone had thrown a cover over her and she must have been there all night."

A new Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency was launched earlier this month and is intended to be operational by June. It will be staffed by police recruited from across Scotland, in an attempt to co-ordinate drug enforcement policies properly.

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