Police in 'legal highs' warning after teen dies at RockNess Festival

Police and health authorities raise concerns over designer drug known as 'Benzo Fury'

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The Independent Online

Police are warning festival goers against taking so-called “legal highs” after a teenager died and two other people were taken to hospital at the RockNess Festival in Scotland today.

A 19-year-old man collapsed in the main arena of the festival on Saturday night and died early this morning at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

A second 19-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman were also taken to the hospital earlier today and are recovering.

Drugs are believed to be involved in all three incidents. Police and health authorities say they are particularly concerned about a “legal high” or designer drug known as Benzo Fury.

The RockNess Festival, on the shores of Loch Ness, attracts 35,000 music lovers over three days to see the likes of Ed Sheeran and Biffy Clyro. It began on Friday and ends today.

In a statement the Northern Constabulary said they were making inquiries into Benzo Fury “which it is believed may have been taken by those who are currently being treated in hospital”.

It added: “This is not a controlled drug. It may, however, be very dangerous, particularly if consumed with other substances.”

Designer drugs are slightly modified versions of illegal substances which the manufacturers hope will circumvent drug laws. Because of this they are difficult to control.

A spokesman for the charity Drugscope said that often trade names were switched to different products so it was impossible to know for certain what might be being taken.

“All you have to do is tweak the chemical formula and it is no longer illegal,” he said. “If people take ecstasy or ketamine they know there is a risk. But because these are marketed as ”legal highs“ they can assume they are therefore safe. The message has to be that they are not.”

Benzo Fury is marketed on the internet. Also known as 6-APB it is a stimulant based on MDA, a psychedelic drug similar to ecstasy.

Public Health Consultant Dr Cameron Stark added: “Our advice is simple: limit how much alcohol you drink, and don’t take none prescribed drugs.

If however you have taken non prescribed drugs including “legal highs”, it is really important that you don't combine them with alcohol. If you feel unwell or you are worried about a friend, please get immediate advice from the onsite medical team.“

Jim King, the organiser of the Rockness Festival, added: “What should be very clear from this information is that legal highs does not mean safe, and customers should not go anywhere near these dangerous substances. Festival goers should heed the advice given to them by the health professionals and the police, and stay safe by avoiding drugs of any kind.”

If anyone has any information they should contact police on 01463 715555 or speak to any officer.

Two men killed in coach crash on the way to festival

Meanwhile, police last night named two men killed in a road crash involving a bus taking people to the festival.

A van driver and his passenger died of their injuries following a collision with a bus on the A9 at Ralia, in the Highlands.

They are Mark McFarlane, 38, and Barry Murray, 28, from the Glasgow area, both painters and decorators.