The family of a 15-year-old who died after taking a former legal high has revealed she was well aware of the dangers – but thought she was ‘invincible’.
Tragic Leah Kerry ‘rolled the dice’ by taking a new psychoactive substance with two friends during a night out, loved ones say.
The teen fell unconscious at 4am in a park on Saturday July 15 and was rushed to hospital but couldn’t be saved.
Two other girls who were believed to have taken the same substance as Leah in Bakers Park in Newton Abbot, Devon, were also taken to hospital as a precaution and later released.
But her grieving family today (Monday)released a statement to say they don’t want Leah’s death to be in vain and called for stronger Government action on the dangers of psycho-active drugs to avoid other families suffering a similar tragedy.
They described their daughter as having a very bright future which was ripped away through making a fatal choice that evening.
In the statement, which has been released through the police, the family said: “Leah had the benefit of good information and advice from many different sources at various intervals of her adolescent life, Leah was well aware of the nature of different illicit substances and the risks attached.
“Sadly, despite being well aware of the risks, she thought she was invincible and she rolled the dice and has paid the ultimate price.
“If there are any young people who have known Leah, or who have heard about her story, I would urge them on Leah’s behalf to not make the same mistake and to make better and safer choices when out in the community.
“If even one young person decides to reduce their risk taking behaviour and not take these dangerous NSP tablets, then Leah’s death has not been in vain.
“I would also ask the Government to place the dangers of psycho active substances at the top of their agenda for discussion on the back of their Drugs Strategy for 2017 which was only published the day before Leah died.
“It’s so shocking that a 15-year-old girl who is socialising with other 15-year-old peers is able to easily have access to a drug so strong that it could lead to her death in the way that it did.”
Leah had been living with her family in Salisbury, Wilts, but often returned to visit friends in Torquay, Devon, where she had lived most of her life.
In the statement, her parents also paid a touching tribute to their daughter.
They said: “The sudden and tragic passing of our beautiful Leah has been the most painful experience that we have all ever had to endure.
“Leah was a kind and loving daughter, sister, niece, cousin, grand-daughter and great grand-daughter her loss has had a profound impact especially on her parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, grand-parents and her younger brother who is struggling to adjust to a future without his big sister.
“Leah was a delightful strong-willed, caring and compassionate child and had developed into a courageous and confident young women; who was ready to take on the world.
“Leah had really started to engage in her education and for the first time since leaving primary school, felt very well accepted and supported by her school setting in Salisbury.
“She had a real love of expensive make-up products and ambitions of following her dreams of doing make up and beauty professionally.
“This was a talent that she had already mastered on herself, Leah loved to look nice, she would never leave the house without her Jeffrey Star Highlighter being over zealously applied and she shimmered and shone her way through her life.
“It has proven to be very comforting to read all the lovely comments about Leah and how she has touched so many people’s lives and how deeply she will be missed by so many.
“I would like to thank the community and especially her friends both in Wiltshire and in Torquay for all their support.”
The statement finishes with a line from Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond: “You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.”
In May last year the law changed meaning NPSs were no longer “legal highs”.
Following Leah’s death, Jacob Khanlarian, 20, from Newton Abbot, was charged with two counts of possession with intent to supply MDMA and cannabis.
He did not enter a plea and was remanded in custody to appear at Exeter Crown Court on August 10.