Ecstasy may have caused teenager's nightclub death

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Police were yesterday sifting through records of hundreds of interviews they hope will shed light on the death of teenager Ben Nodes, who is believed to be the latest victim of ecstasy.

The 18-year-old collapsed and later died in toilets at a nightclub at Aldershot, Hampshire, early on Saturday. Ben was with a group of four other youths who had travelled from Bournemouth to attend an all-night party at the Rhythm Station club.

Police are investigating the possibility that the five may have taken ecstasy before arriving at the venue. A pathologist will carry out a post mortem examination today.

Officers interviewed 310 people at the Rhythm Station on Saturday night and distributed leaflets showing Ben's picture.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Watts, who is leading the investigation, said: "We need to go through the interviews before we know how much information we have got. We will have a better idea once we have done that."

Ambulancemen called to the toilets at the club at 5am on Saturday were unable to save Ben's life and he was certified dead at the scene.

The five youths had travelled to the club to see the rave group, Fusion. Ben had been studying tourism at the Bournemouth and Poole College of Further Education.

His distraught parents were yesterday being comforted at the family home in Boscombe, Bournemouth.

Ben went to the toilets shortly after 3am and locked himself in one of the cubicles. Friends checked on him several times but police were called shortly before 5am, when he was found to have collapsed.

Inspector Nigel Hindle said the death was being treated as suspicious and investigations centred on whether he had been taking drugs.

"At this stage it is too early for us to comment on the cause of the death but drugs will be a part of the investigation. We cannot comment further until we have the results of the post mortem examination," he said.

Club owner John Searchfield said of Ben's group: "Apparently, some of them bought ecstasy in the south coast area and took the tablets in the car before they entered the club."

He pledged to carry out more stringent checks in future. "We normally walk around the club and check the toilets regularly. We don't allow drugs in the club at all.

"Nothing like this has happened before," he said. "All I can do is prevent drugs from entering and prevent people taking drugs in the club.

"I cannot control what they do before they enter the premises."

In Devon, a teenager was rushed to hospital after it was feared he had taken ecstasy at a drugs awareness rave party, police said yesterday.

The 16-year-old, who has not been named, was among 250 youngsters attending the party at Exmouth Pavilions.

The event was the culmination of a drugs awareness day, organised by the Exeter Drugs Project.

Police said it had been suggested that the teenager, thought to have drunk a large amount of whisky and alcoholic lemonade, had then taken ecstasy.

The youngster, who is from the Exmouth area, was taken to hospital in Exeter and was later discharged.

He was due to be interviewed by police last night.