Man denies link in Leah ecstasy chain

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The Independent Online
The man accused of buying the ecstasy tablet that killed Leah Betts yesterday denied any involvement in supplying drugs to her.

Steven Packman, 18, of Laindon, Essex, has been accused of buying the ecstasy that killed 18-year-old Leah in November last year. But he told Norwich Crown Court he was not involved.

The jury has been told that Mr Packman brought four ecstasy tablets in a nightclub called Raquel's in Basildon, Essex. And that he then passed them on to his best friend, Stephen Smith, 19, of Basildon, who passed them to Leah via two other friends.

Mr Packman told the court yesterday that Smith was lying. "I didn't offer to buy drugs for anyone else or for him. He [Smith] feels that he can get himself out of trouble by getting me involved ... I was not involved in any of this."

Mr Packman said he had never taken drugs and never been involved in dealing drugs or handling drugs. He said he now felt "disgusted" with Smith for alleging that he was involved in the drugs chain.

"Because we were such good friends, I suppose he thought I would take the blame with him," Mr Packman added.

The court has been told that Mr Packman approached the head doorman at Raquel's - Patrick O'Mahoney - after hearing that he wanted to speak to him. Mr Packman's conversation with Mr O'Mahoney was taped by the News of the World. On the tape, Mr Packman appears to admit buying the drugs from a dealer at the nightclub.

But Packman told the court yesterday that he was "paranoid" during the conversation with Mr O'Mahoney.

He said he was saying whatever he thought the doorman wanted to hear because he was afraid for his safety.

Andrew Williams, for the prosecution, put it to Mr Packman that he had told "bare-faced lies" to the jury. Mr Packman said he had not.

The case was adjourned until today.