Police arrest 10 after four drug-related deaths in northeast England

Investigation launched after young people – three of them students – believed to have died taking illegal substances over weekend

Tom Batchelor
Monday 05 October 2020 20:41
Northumbria Police have launched a largescale investigation
Northumbria Police have launched a largescale investigation

Police investigating four suspected drug-related deaths at the weekend – three of whom were university students – have made 10 arrests.

Two women, both 18, from Newcastle University, died after taking ketamine, Northumbria Police said.

An 18-year-old man, who was not a student, and a 21-year-old Northumbria University undergraduate in Newcastle also died after taking MDMA, the force said.

Northumbria Police have launched a large-scale investigation with officers carrying out a number of room searches with drugs dogs at student accommodation. 

Police were first called at 6am on Saturday when an 18-year-old woman was found unresponsive at Richardson Road. She was believed to have taken ketamine and was pronounced dead at the scene.

An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of supplying a class B drug and has been released on bail.

The second woman was found dead in the same building at around 1.10pm on Sunday, the force said.

Police said an 18-year-old was arrested in connection with supplying a class B drug.

Between those deaths, officers were called to an address on the Coach Road Estate in Washington, where an 18-year-old had fallen ill after taking MDMA on Saturday afternoon.

He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards and seven people were arrested.

On Sunday, at 8.13am, the force was told that a 21-year-old Northumbria University student had fallen ill at a property in Melbourne Street, Newcastle, after he was thought to have taken MDMA.

He was taken to hospital, but died a short time later.

A 20-year-old man arrested on suspicion of supplying class A drugs has since been released on police bail.

Chief Inspector Steve Wykes said: “This weekend we have seen the tragic loss of four young lives and our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of those who have sadly died.

“Although our investigations are at an early stage and we continue to establish the circumstances around these tragedies, we want to reiterate our warning to people against taking drugs for recreational use.

“The consequences could cost you your life.

“We will continue to work with both universities and will be increasing our patrols in the areas where these tragedies have occurred.”

A Newcastle University spokesperson said: “We are devastated to learn of a second death at our university and our wellbeing teams are providing support to those affected.

“In light of the warning from Northumbria Police and Public Health that drugs may be a factor in these and a further two deaths in our region, the vice-chancellor also wrote to all students last night to remind them of the dangers of illegal drugs and directing them to our wellbeing service if they need any help or support.”

Additional reporting by PA