Student supplied £7 MDMA tablet which killed 22-year-old friend during Yorkshire graduation celebration

A student who supplied a £7 ecstasy tablet to a friend and fellow graduate who then suffered a fatal reaction during 'one last fling' at university was jailed on Friday.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 14th October 2018, 11:09 am
Updated Sunday, 14th October 2018, 11:13 am
Joana Burns died after her friend Katherin Lavin gave her 7 of ecstasy. Photos: SWNS
Joana Burns died after her friend Katherin Lavin gave her 7 of ecstasy. Photos: SWNS

Joana Burns, 22, suffered fits and then died after taking the drug also known as MDMA after celebrating her graduation with university pals last year.

Tragically her grief-stricken sister Marcia, 17, took her own life less than three months later.

Today Joana's housemate and friend Katherin Lavin, 21, was jailed for six months after she admitted supplying the fatal drug.

Joana Burns, 22, died after taking ecstasy

University drop-out Benjamin Williams was also jailed for two and a half years for supplying the drug.

Jailing the pair, the Recorder of Sheffield Jeremy Richardson QC, said he would be "failing in his public duty" if he did not send them to prison.

He told the pair: "You in differing ways have each played a role in the death of a young woman.

"You each will have to deal with that for the rest of your lives - you are the architects of this catastrophe that you visited upon yourselves.

"MDMA or Ecstasy as a class A drug for a reason - as demonstrated in this case it's an exceptionally dangerous drug.

"It can cause the death of anyone who uses it - it is a killer.

"It's exceptionally dangerous - in this case a young woman of university undergraduate has tragically died at a young age as a result of voluntarily consuming that drug."

Sheffield Crown Court, South Yorkshire, heard how Lavin bought 4.5 grammes of MDMA for a group of friends including Joana for a night out on June 6, last year.

The court was told how Joana and her friends planned to consume the drugs at Sheffield University's Student Union event night called Club Tuesdays.

The Sheffield Hallam University Maths student smuggled "two quarter gramme packages" into the venue in her underwear.

Prosecutor Phillip Evans told the court Joana had consumed the first package but became "progressively unwell" as the night went on.

He said: "By 2am on Wednesday June 7 Miss Burns was reported to be having difficulty standing.

"An ambulance was called and she was taken to the Northern General Hospital.

"She had suffered a catastrophic reaction to the drugs she consumed and did later that day - she was 22 years of age."

Lavin, who shared accommodation with Joana, agreed to buy the drugs on behalf of Joana and six other friends for "one last fling".

The defendant, who gained a 2:1 for media studies, bought the drugs from co-defendant Benjamin Williams, 26, who she worked with at a bar.

It emerged during the hearing today that Williams had bought the drugs off the internet and asked for payment by Bitcoin - a price of £50 was agreed.

"Recreational user" Williams expected to gain two pills for himself worth about £5 from the drug deal.

After the drugs had arrived by post Williams was said to have texted Lavin that the drug was unusual colour - it looked "sick" and tasted "vile".

James Bourne-Arton, defending Lavin, said: "One of the witnesses decribed it as nothing other than a one-off.

"She is not a habitual user and it's not something she takes part in regularly.

"Miss Lavin will never again be involved in drugs of any sort.

"It's clear that her remorse is not driven by self-pity but as a result of the loss of her friend."

Dermot Hughes, defending Williams, said his client was "fundamentally a decent young man".

He said: "He made a mistake and the consequences will be serious and life-long.

"He was known to be a user himself on a recreational basis who would have the knowledge to source drugs.

"He was not motivated by financial advantage - the limited financial gain was the price of two tablets."

Lavin, 21, from Stockport, Greater Mancs., pleaded guilty to supplying MDMA on June 6, 2017, and possession of cannabis at a previous hearing.

Computer science student Benjamin Williams, 25, also pleaded guilty to supplying a controlled drug of class A.

Lavin sobbed as she was led away from the dock while Williams looked tearful.

Joana's mother Mosca Burns wept in the public gallery as the sentence was announced.