The inquest into the death of a young woman in Harrogate has led to North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire’s Assistant Coroner issuing a warning about drug use and the importance of seeking urgent medical assistance for anyone who falls ill after taking drugs.
The warning comes following the inquest into the death of 24-year-old Mariam Ali Shaabam Hussain Khesroh a Leeds dentistry student from Kuwait who was found dead in Harrogate.
Mariam was found deceased behind Brandon Lodge off Lancaster Park Road on the morning of 10 April 2013, after taking a combination of ketamine and Heroin.
The inquest heard that the drugs had contributed to Mariam’s death and that it could have been avoided if medical assistance had been sought sooner. Assistant Coroner for North Yorkshire, Geoff Fell recorded a verdict of misadventure on 26 February 2014.
Mariam had travelled to Harrogate on 9 April 2013 to celebrate after completing her final dentistry exams at Leeds University. She will never know that she passed.
She was awarded her degree posthumously by Leeds University which was collected by a member of her family who attended the graduation ceremony.
North Yorkshire Police and Mr Fell want to highlight an agreement between emergency services in North Yorkshire which states that the police will not be called to a suspected drugs overdose unless there are suspicious circumstances or the ambulance crew need police assistance.
Mr Fell said: As this tragic case highlights, time is a crucial factor in cases involving the misuse of drugs and any delay in calling for medical assistance can mean the difference between life and death.
Our main concern is that people receive the care that they need as quickly as possible, therefore an agreement was introduced in 2007 which means that emergency health workers will not routinely call the police in the event of an apparent drugs overdose.
Detective Sergeant Steve Menzies of Harrogate CID, added: This is a very sad case in which a celebration turned into a tragedy. Mariam was about to embark on a career in dentistry. Unfortunately having just passed her final exams she was never aware that she had her passed her degree.
The two people in her company were aware of her troubled breathing after she took a cocktail of drugs but no medical assistance was sought. I would expect that most people’s thoughts would have been to get her emergency medical assistance, especially as Harrogate Hospital A&E was directly across the road to Brandon Lodge.
Mariam was dragged to the rear of the building and left behind some bins. There was a further 1½ hour delay before an ambulance was called.
In issuing a verdict of death by misadventure, I echo Assistant Coroner, Mr Fell’s comments that there are lessons to be learnt.
This is a prime example of the serious dangers of taking illicit drugs. I was dismayed to hear a number of witnesses talk in a blasé way about the use of ketamine as a ‘party’ drug. This drug is a horse tranquiliser and unfortunately the misuse of this drug has contributed to the death of Mariam. We also heard evidence from one witness who knew of another person who had died after using ketamine.
I would strongly urge against the use of illegal drugs. If anybody does use them and suffers any adverse affect, especially and in particular with laboured breathing, they need immediate emergency medical assistance. In that situation ring 999 and ask for an ambulance. You could save a life.
Miriam’s death could have been avoided and this is a waste of a talented young life. Our thoughts are with Mariam’s family and friends as they try to come to terms with what happened to her.
No criminal charges were brought against anyone in connection with her death, including those present at the time.
There are a range of organisations who can help adults and young people who have drug problems:
Talk to Frank www.talktofrank.com/need-support Tel 0800 77 66 00
- Craven CODA Community drug treatment service and prescribing 01756 794362
- Hambleton and Richmondshire HARCAS Community drug treatment 01609 780486
- Hambleton and Richmondshire HARSMS Prescribing 01609 751232
- Harrogate The Gate Community drug treatment service and prescribing 01423 507185
- Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale ABS Prescribing 01723 356090
- Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Compass Community drug treatment service and prescribing 01723 503920
- Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Next Choice Structured day programme 01723 506900
- Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Cambridge Centre Community drug treatment service 01723 367475
- Selby Compass
- Community drug treatment service and prescribing 01757 212355
- York Lifeline Drug and alcohol services (ATLAS for young people) 01904 464680
- York York Hospital Hospital liaison nurse 01904 726559
- York York Carers Service Family support service 01904 715490
- North Yorkshire Compass Reach Young people’s service 01609 777662