Girl, 10, becomes Britain's youngest ecstasy victim

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The Independent Online

Police were interviewing three people last night over the death of a happy, energetic 10-year-old schoolgirl who is believed to have swallowed up to five ecstasy tablets.

Police were interviewing three people last night over the death of a happy, energetic 10-year-old schoolgirl who is believed to have swallowed up to five ecstasy tablets.

Jade Slack, Britain's youngest victim of the Class A dance drug, is believed to have found the tablets in a house she visited with a 10-year-old school friend on Sunday afternoon, according to sources in the village where she lived.

Police said the occupants of the house in Galgate, Lancashire were known to Jade's young friend. Detective Superintendent Ian Jones, leading the inquiry, said articles had been recovered from the house. "We have reason to believe this may be ecstasy. While we cannot at this stage confirm that Jade died directly as a result of this, it is obviously a strong line of inquiry," he said. There was no suggestion that the drugs had been given to the child.

Forensics units and sniffer dogs have searched the house and detectives also await the results of a post-mortem examination and toxicology tests.

Galgate was devastated by the death of a popular child known to most local people as the daughter of Simon Slack, a milkman who recently inherited the round from his parents after 30 years.

Jade, the youngest of three children, spent Friday night singing and dancing at a talent show at Ellel St John's Primary school in the village and is believed to have attended a birthday party with her 10-year-old friend on Saturday.

On Sunday, she left her semi-detached bungalow home in Galgate and visited the house, which is believed to be within walking distance.

It is believed she played with a baby in the house, the reason for her visit, but complained of feeling unwell after finding the tablets, which were white with the word "ferrari'' printed on them. Efforts were made to contact her parents and her 17-year-old sister Zara got an uncle to drive Jade to Lancaster Royal Infirmary. She died there at 6pm on Sunday, with her father and mother, Beverley Slack, a care worker, at her bedside.

It has emerged that police are looking at the possibility that there was a delay before emergency services were contacted – though raising the alarm earlier would not necessarily have saved her life.

Police are questioning three adults who are believed to have been in the house on Sunday, who are all aged between 18 and 20.

Jade's headteacher Barbara White invited parents to join in a morning assembly in her honour yesterday. Mrs White said Jade was a "happy, loving, kind, friendly girl, popular in school and liked by everybody". She had been a member of the school's rounders, skittleball and football teams.

Children were encouraged to recall their former classmate and some drew pictures of her, dressed up and dancing as she had looked on stage at Friday's talent show.

In the village, Roy Mitchell, 74, said: "It's a damn shame. All the young people do is wander aimlessly up and down the streets. There's nothing for children, not even a youth club."

The Home Office yesterday reiterated its view that ecstasy was a "killer drug" which would remain Class A alongside heroin and cocaine – contrary to the conclusions of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee which said two months ago that it might be reclassified as Class B.

The select committee said the drug killed fewer than 10 people a year which, "though deeply distressing", was a small percentage of the thousands who took it every week.

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