Freshers in a city where three students died in suspected drug tragedies regularly had calling cards left at their accommodation by local dealers, it has emerged.
Jeni Larmour and another 18-year-old were found dead at Newcastle University’s Park View halls of residence this weekend after apparently taking ketamine, while a 21-year-old Northumbria University student also died after being taken to hospital.
A fourth individual – an 18-year-old man from nearby Washington – passed away after allegedly taking MDMA.
Now, it has emerged that local dealers were approaching students within days of them arriving in the North East city.
Cards were left under accommodation doorways directing youngsters to an Instagram account where drugs could be ordered, according to the Mirror.
“I’m in private accommodation that has lots of kids from university," a 19-year-old psychology student told The Mirror. "I don’t even know how they got in but they put the cards under the doors.”
“They were under neighbours’ doors as well.”
SuSu Tan, 18, a business management student, added: “We’ve been here less than a week, so I am not sure how they knew we lived there.”
Eleven people have since been arrested in connection with the four deaths by Northumbria Police.
Chief inspector Steve Wykes, of the force, said on Tuesday that more student blocks had now been searched as part of the investigation and he urged anyone with drugs to dispose of them either by contacting a university welfare officer or by visiting their local police station.
“We are all still in shock at what has been an incredibly sad and difficult weekend,” he said.
Meanwhile, tributes have continued to pour in for Larmour, who had arrived in Newcastle, from her native County Armagh just two days before she died.
The architecture student was described as “spirited and independently minded” by her former head teacher Graham Montgomery at The Royal School Armagh.
“We have no doubt, that given her academic ability and personality, Jeni had a bright future ahead of her and we are saddened that has been so suddenly cut short,” he said.
Newcastle University has said it was “devastated” to learn of the deaths of two of its students, and said its wellbeing teams were providing support to those affected.
“The health and safety of our students is our utmost priority and in light of the sad and shocking events of this weekend our vice-chancellor, Prof Chris Day, has with great sadness written to all our students informing them of the distressing news and offering support to anyone affected,” a spokesperson said.
Professor Fiona Measham, co-founder of The Loop, a harm reduction charity, said she had warned “all summer to anyone who would listen” about the risks of students going back to university amid Covid restrictions.
“There’s no nightclubs and pubs close at 10pm,” Professor Measham, chair in criminology at Liverpool University, said.
“Nightclubs are a semi-safe space, they have registered door staff and security, the bigger clubs often have paramedics, they have chillout spaces. If you don’t have nightclubs open, you lose that safety net.”
She added: “My concern was that over the summer there were illegal raves and now the weather is turning bad, young people will be having parties in private residences but they won't have paramedics on hand.”
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