Mother's stark warning after ecstasy death

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Chief Reporter

The mother of a 19-year-old nightclubber yesterday warned young people against taking ecstasy after the drug exposed a weakness in her son's heart and killed him.

Josephine Bouzis wept as she described how her son, Andreas, left home on Friday night to go dancing but never returned. "Everything we have had over the last 19 years has been taken away," she said.

Mr Bouzis collapsed at Club UK in Wandsworth, south London, at 1.40am on Saturday, about 90 minutes after taking one ecstasy tablet stamped with a "bunny" logo. Medically-trained staff at the club tried in vain to revive him.

Yesterday, Detective Chief Superintendent Roger Couzens said a post-mortem examination had revealed a congenital heart defect - a constricted valve - which appeared to have been exacerbated by the drug.

One officer said last night: "It seems he could have gone on for years unaware and lived a normal life, but the drug exposed the condition."

Mrs Bouzis, of Friern Barnet, north London, was joined at a press conference by her husband, Tasos, and two of their son's friends, Peter Georgiou, 19, who was with their son when he died, and George Koureas, also 19.

Mrs Bouzis said: "Andreas was our life, our family, our love, our reason to live. On Friday night he went to a club, just as your children may have done. Now he is dead, gone forever. I cannot describe our feelings.

"Yesterday, our son had a future, he had a life ... Today he is dead. Families and their love are very precious. Ecstasy tablets destroy families."

Peter Georgiou said the pills were bought for pounds 10 each by him, Andreas and a friend. "Due to one ecstasy tablet, costing pounds 10, our best friend has lost his life. Anyone who goes clubbing can understand the pressure to take them but it is just not worth it," he said. Det Ch Supt Couzens issued a photofit picture of the man who sold the drugs and said he was wearing a chunky woollen sweater and black trousers.

Asked whether a murder charge could follow, he said: "This is being treated as a suspicious death at this stage. This man was put under no pressure to take it. It was taken by him of his own free will." He said that police had made representations to licensing magistrates in the wake of earlier raids on Club UK in which drugs were seized and arrests made. However, he would not say whether those representations included requests for the club to lose its licence.

Det Ch Supt Couzens also divulged that he and other officers making inquiries at the club on Saturday night arrested a man and charged him with being in possession of drugs with intent to supply. The two incidents are unrelated, he said.

Mr Bouzis's death came despite the campaign which followed the ecstasy death of Leah Betts, who died in November after taking a tablet at her 18th birthday party. And it coincided with the release from hospital of Helen Cousins, 19, who lapsed into a coma after taking a pill at a club in Peterborough on New Year's Eve.

Yesterday, Club UK said it had given film from security cameras to police in the hope that it would identify the dealer. Management believe Mr Bouzis took his pill while queuing up outside the club. Gerald Franklin, a spokesman, said the club had a strenuous anti-drugs policy which included undercover security staff, body searches at the door and closed circuit television. He added: "It is so tragic that a young life has been lost and I sincerely hope that this will serve as a warning to anyone taking drugs that they should think twice about the consequences."