'Couple delayed as girl, 10, died from ecstasy overdose'

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The Independent Online

A couple killed a 10-year-old girl by letting her suffer for 90 minutes before calling the emergency services after she swallowed five ecstasy pills, a court was told yesterday.

Jade Slack found the drugs inside a cigarette box left lying around the home of an adult friend at Galgate, near Lancaster. She told the adults what she had done and would probably have survived if she had been taken immediately to hospital, jurors were told.

But even though her lips turned purple, her temperature rose sharply and she became hyperactive and then fell unconscious, the adults in the house failed to call for medical help, Manchester Crown Court was told. Instead, Jade, who found the tablets at about 2.30pm that afternoon, died shortly before 6pm, from a fatal dose of the class A drug.

"For these reasons we contend that these defendants are responsible for the death of Jade Slack," said James Pickup QC, for the prosecution.

The girl found the pills in a box underneath a sofa in the living room of the home, a popular haunt for youngsters who were allowed to smoke and drink beer by the adults who lived there.

Jade, and other girls her age, had been regular visitors to the home of Rebecca Hodgson, then 20, and her infant son at Galgate, Lancashire. When she arrived, Miss Hodgson and then boyfriend Wayne Wood were asleep upstairs.

Mr Wood had left the 35 ecstasy pills on the living room floor and by the time he remembered about them, Jade had taken some, the court heard. She complained of feeling unwell and went to lie down for a while but when she got up, she was obviously ill, the court heard. "Her lips were changing to a purple colour. When she tried to walk she banged into things. Her temperature seemed to be rising," Mr Pickup said.

"By the time Rebecca Hodgson got out of the shower she was sat on the settee, her teeth were chattering. Jade's behaviour became increasingly strange. She was hyperactive, she would not sit down."

After she admitted taking the pills, the couple called Jade's older sister instead of medical help. Eventually she was eventually taken to hospital where she died despite having her stomach flushed.

Miss Hodgson held her head in her hands and wept as the court heard of the hospital's vain attempts to save the schoolgirl's life. Mr Wood sat emotionless alongside her.

Mr Pickup said that by allowing Jade into her home, Miss Hodgson and Mr Wood, who spent most of his time there, owed her a duty of care.

Miss Hodgson, now 21, and Mr Wood, now 22, deny manslaughter and child cruelty. The case continues.