Ecstasy death was accident, jury told

A man accused of killing a 10-year-old girl, who died after swallowing five ecstasy tablets, told police he "loved her to bits" and did not know why he failed to call an ambulance, a court heard yesterday.

Wayne Wood, 22, from Galgate, near Lancaster, told police it was a "tragic accident" and he wished he could "turn back time", a jury at Manchester Crown Court heard.

Jade Slack died after taking the pills at a house in Galgate in July last year, making her Britain's youngest ecstasy victim. She had been at the home of Rebecca Hodgson, 21.

Ms Hodgson, from Lancaster, and her former partner Mr Wood are accused of killing Jade by failing to dial 999, despite knowing she had taken the drug. Both deny manslaughter and child cruelty.

Mr Wood told the police he knew Jade had taken the drug when he returned to Ms Hodgson's home on 14 July. He told police: "She was sort of slightly hyper but she was all right, and I could get a conversation out of her." Asked why he had not called an ambulance, Mr Wood said he didn't know. "I was frightened of what was happening," he said.

In a police interview, read out in court by James Pickup QC, for the prosecution, Mr Wood denied he was covering his own back. "I was trying to do something to help," he said. "I was trying to get hold of her dad and then I called Zara, Jade's elder sister."

Mr Wood originally told police he had left six ecstasy tablets at Ms Hodgson's house, but he later admitted it was 35. Asked why he had lied, he said he was frightened of what would happen to him. He said: "I loved that kid to bits, do you know what I mean. It is a tragic accident, but I wish I could turn back time."

Wood told police he had told Jade to drink water, and suggested she take a cold shower.

The case continues.