Drug dealing school friend of Leeds Festival death teenager is jailed

A teenage drug dealer who is believed to have supplied ecstasy at Leeds Festival to a 17-year-old school friend who later died has been jailed.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 5:14 pm

Luke Jones, 18, was one of three men who were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court after admitting conspiracy to supply ecstasy at Leeds Festival in August 2019.

The court heard 17-year-old Anya Buckley, who had gone to the festival with a group of friends, collapsed after taking drugs including ecstasy at the Bramham Park festival site.

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Luke Jones

Medical staff tried to revive Anya, but she was declared dead just after 3.30am on August 24, 2019.

Toxicology results showed Anya had a combination of ecstasy, ketamine and cocaine in her system.

A pathologist concluded Anya died from mixed drug toxicity and said ecstasy toxicity is likely to have been the central factor in her death.

Tom Storey, prosecuting, said Anya had told a friend at the festival that she had agreed to smuggle some drugs into the festival for Jones in exchange for some free drugs for herself.

Sol Pegler

Three hours after Anya's death police found where Luke Jones was camping and arrested and searched him.

Mr Storey said officers found a small Louis Vuitton draw-string bag in his underwear, which contained a number of self-seal bags containing tablets and white powder.

The drugs were later found to include more than 9g of powdered ecstasy at 92 per cent purity.

There were also 25 cream coloured tablets marked with a Pharaoh's head logo and a message that read 'warning/Pharaoh 240mg' - among other drugs found by police.

Anya Buckley

Mr Storey said Jones had done internet searches on his phone for 'Pharaoh' pills and visited a web page that urged caution on the basis that this type of MDMA tablet comprised a high dose because it contained more than 120mg of MDMA.

Jones, of Lauren Close, Oldham, admitted conspiring to supply ecstasy between August 1 and 25 2019.

Mr Storey said: "A significant amount of messages were retrieved from Luke Jones’ mobile phone.

"These point to the involvement of others, including Sol Pegler and Joshua Yarwood, in the conspiracy to supply controlled drugs at the Leeds Festival."

The court heard Yarwood, 20, had agreed to allow Jones to use his phone to complete one ecstasy deal at the festival when Jones's phone wasn't working.

Yarwood, of Clough Lane, Oldham, admitted conspiring to supply ecstasy between August 1 and 25 2019.

Yarwood also admitted two charges of offering to supply cannabis in 2020.

Mr Storey said Sol Pegler, 21, had been involved in drug dealing before and after Leeds Festival 2019.

Pegler, of Highmoor View, Oldham, admitted conspiring to supply ecstasy.

He also admitted possession with intent to supply cocaine, ketamine and cannabis on October 9 2019; offering to supply cocaine and ketamine on June 5 2017 and offering to supply cocaine and ketamine on May 29 2018.

Rebecca Penfold, mitigating for Luke Jones, said: "Luke was very good friends with Anya and feels her loss heavily.

"This is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life."

Mark Kellet for Sol Pegler, said: "This is a large group of stupid young people not understanding what they are getting themselves into."

Mr Kellet said his client feels "genuine remorse."

Maria Brannan for Yarwood, said: "At the time of the offences he had just completed his lower sixth year. He was in the same school year as Luke Jones and Anya Buckley."

Mr Storey said drugs worth more than £120,000 were seized during the course of the 2019 Leeds Festival and 117 people were evicted for drug-related matters.

Jailing Luke Jones for two years and eight months, Judge Simon Batiste said: "I make it clear, despite the evidence indicating that the drugs that killed Anya may have come from him, I do not sentence him for causing her death."

Judge Batiste added: "He was selling particularly strong MDMA. He was aware from searches he had undertaken that the drugs he was selling had a greater quantity of MDMA than would normally be the case."

Jailing Sol Pegler for six years, Judge Batiste told him: "You were clearly involved in dealing drugs before and after Leeds Festival."

Judge Batiste handed Yarwood a 16 month jail sentence, suspended for two years and told him to do 10 rehabilitation activity days and 150 hours unpaid work.

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Jackson, who led the West Yorkshire Police investigation, said: “Anya Buckley’s death at such a young age is an absolute tragedy that has left her family completely devastated.

"Our thoughts remain with them at what continues to be a very difficult time for them.

“Our investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death uncovered evidence that linked those convicted and sentenced today to drug supply offences.

“The dangers of taking illegal drugs and the serious risks associated with their use are sadly already very well documented, but we hope this case may serve as another stark reminder to young people of the terrible human consequences and criminal penalties that can result from the use and supply of drugs.”

At an inquest held earlier this year into Anya's death, a coroner raised concerns about 16- and 17-year-olds being allowed at Leeds Festival unsupervised.

Senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin sent a prevention of future deaths report to Leeds City Council - which grants a premises licence to the festival.

Mr McLoughlin said he was concerned that 16 and 17-year-olds are allowed to go to the festival unsupervised in a situation where drugs are available and young teenagers are “easy prey.”

After recording a conclusion of drug-related death, Mr McLoughlin said he would send a Regulation 28 prevention of future deaths report to Leeds City Council and ask the local authority to consider increasing the minimum age for unsupervised festival-goers.

Leeds City Council officials are expected to submit a report how deaths can be avoided at future stagings of Leeds Festival.

A document produced by Leeds City Council officers says a “working group” of licensing committee members has met to consider the contents of the report.

It states: “During the 2019 festival there was an incident involving a female of 17 years of age, and despite all best efforts by the medical services, it resulted in a fatality.”

The council document adds: “A working group has been established to consider the contents of the report.

"The first meeting of the working group took place on February 9, from which it was agreed to ask the senior coroner for an extension to the original deadline of March 12 to allow for further information to be gathered and presented, including from the organisers of the event.”