Coroner’s warning over Leeds student drug death

TRAGEDY: Adam Dixon, who died after taking ecstasy.
TRAGEDY: Adam Dixon, who died after taking ecstasy.
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The ‘Russian roulette’ risk of using ecstasy has been highlighted by a coroner following the death of a Leeds student who had taken the party drug.

Former head boy Adam Dixon, 18, was found dead in bed at his digs at Leeds Met University’s Beckett Park Campus in Headingley, after he split a gram of MDMA with two pals on January 7.

They had all looked ‘hyper, sweating and pale’ to a fellow student around midnight, Leeds Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.

Five hours later, Adam was pronounced dead by paramedics, who were unable to resuscitate him when friends raised the alarm.

It is the third ecstasy-related death in Leeds in the last 12 months, West Yorkshire Police confirmed.

The city’s coroner David Hinchliff recorded a narrative verdict of ‘death as a consequence of non-dependent use of ecstasy’.

He said: “[Ecstasy] is used prolifically by young people, particularly in recreational environments and the number of deaths that occur bears no relation on how many people use it.

“Why this should have happened to Adam and on this particular occasion I really can’t say, which is why it’s rather like playing Russian roulette.

“This could happen to anyone.”

Consultant forensic pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd, who conducted the post-mortem, confirmed Adam, a keen musician, had a significant 5,014 micro grams of MDMA per litre of blood in his system.

He told Adam’s family, who attended the inquest, that ecstasy can cause a heart to beat irregularly and even stop, which he believed had happened.

The pathologist described the “idiosyncratic and unpredictable” nature of ecstasy, adding there was no “quality control” when it came to taking illegal recreational drugs.

He said: “If by chance you get a stronger batch it could do more harm. The problem is there is no real way of knowing what you are taking.

“There is no quality control. There’s no way you can say that you used the substance 100 times with no serious effect, as the next time it could be fatal.”

Adam, who split his time between his Halifax home and Headingley digs, had been head boy at school before enrolling in a multimedia technology degree at Leeds Met in September 2011. He had spent three weeks at home over Christmas with his family, friends and long-term girlfriend before his death on Sunday January 8 this year.

In a statement his family said: “We are absolutely devastated by our tragic loss of Adam. We will never come to terms with the loss of this wonderful, bright young man who had everything to live for.

“We are, and always will be extremely proud of Adam, including his achievements at school. He had a warm, generous personality with a true zest for life.”

Det Con Ian Harper, who investigated Adam’s death, said the teenr had bought the drug from a dealer in Far Headingley on January 7.

A 22-year-old man arrested on suspicion of supplying ecstasy at the time, remains on police bail, he said at court.

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