Derbyshire Student's Friend To Be Sentenced For Supplying Drugs That Killed Her

12 October 2018, 10:15 | Updated: 12 October 2018, 10:18

Joana Burns - Derbyshire Student drugs death

The friend of a student from Derbyshire who died after taking ecstasy as she celebrated the end of her time at university is due to be sentenced.

Joana Burns, from Alfreton, was celebrating finishing her final year of a maths degree at Sheffield Hallam University when she died after taking £7 worth of the drug, also known as MDMA, an inquest into her death heard earlier this year.

Her friend Katherine Lavin, 21, has admitted supplying MDMA along with another former student, Benjamin Williams.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC told them last month: "These are serious matters. All sentencing options remain open and that includes being sent to prison."

Lavin, of Kentmore Close, Stockport, and former computer science student Williams, 25, of Melbourne Road, Sheffield, were told by the judge: "Please read nothing into the fact that pre-sentence reports are required and please read nothing into the fact you are being given bail."

The will be sentenced by Judge Richardson on Friday.

In May, an inquest heard how Miss Burns was with a group of friends who all agreed to take the drug as they went out for a "final fling".

Lavin, who was one of the group, bought the ecstasy in the form of a powder which they each then made into "bombs" using cigarette paper, Sheffield Coroner's Court was told.

Miss Burns' boyfriend, Lewis Birch, told the hearing how the 22-year-old had taken the ecstasy willingly and he thought it was probably the third time she had done it.

Mr Birch said the group decided to go to the Tuesday Club at Sheffield University students' union and that Miss Burns took one "bomb" before she went into the union building on June 6, last year.

The court heard how she took another in the early hours of the morning, but witnesses said she vomited that one straight back up before she started fitting and was taken to hospital.

Mr Birch said the group had decided to go out that night as a last celebration of their time at university, which a police officer described in the inquest as a "final fling".

Pathologist Kim Suvarna told the inquest the MDMA probably reacted with enzymes in her body to cause it to overheat.

Dr Suvarna said: "There's no such thing as a safe drug, particularly with this kind of psychoactive substance."

He told the coroner: "The young tend to believe they can do things they wish because they are young and immortal.

"Unfortunately, that doesn't apply."

Assistant coroner Abigail Combes recorded a verdict of misadventure.

Miss Burns' mother, Mosca Burns, has warned of the dangers of ecstasy.