A university lecturer stared mournfully from a dock yesterday as a judge told him that no court punishment would compare to the lifetime of guilt he would suffer after his stash of drugs killed his daughter's teenage friend.
Acknowledging Brian Dodgeon's remorse over the death of Isobel Jones-Reilly, 15, Judge Andrew McDowall chose not to jail him but imposed an eight-month suspended sentence. "The worst punishment you can have is one that will last for the rest of your conscious life, the knowledge that your possession of these drugs and your failure to keep them secure from teenage experimentation has resulted in a death," he said.
Dodgeon, 61, frail and using a walking stick after he attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge, rubbed his forehead and looked distressed as the court relived the events of 22 April this year.
The academic believed his daughter Beatrice Hadjipateras, 14, was "mature and responsible" enough to host an unsupervised party for 30 friends at their home in Kensington, west London, the judge was told. But the teenagers ignored a ban on alcohol, smoked marijuana and rifled through his bedroom.
In his wardrobe they found his "secret stash" of ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and the psychedelic drug 5-MeO-DIPT, known in street slang as as "Foxy Methoxy". The teenagers helped themselves and Isobel took two ecstasy tablets. She began to hallucinate but begged friends not to call an ambulance because she feared getting into trouble. She collapsed in the early hours and was pronounced dead later in hospital.
Howard Tobias, for the prosecution, said Isobel's parents had lost an adventurous, sociable, friendly daughter with a warm personality. "Her family are completely devastated. The impact ... has been overwhelming," he said.
Dodgeon, who had been away in Hastings, East Sussex, at a party with his partner Angela Hadjipateras, was arrested at the hospital, the court heard. He immediately admitted the drugs were his, and said he had bought them over many years. The former social worker, now a research fellow at the University of London's Institute of Education, described himself as an "old hippie". His barrister, Sarah Elliott, told Isleworth Crown Court that he was consumed with remorse, at times "too hard to bear". "He tried to take his own life a few weeks after this incident," she said. "He is, in short, a broken man."