View attachment 31111 View attachment 31112 A deadly batch of super-strength ecstasy known as ‘Dr Death’ is suspected to be behind a spate of tragic deaths among young partygoers.
Five people have died in the last month – three last weekend just hours after they apparently took the drug.
The first was 20-year-old Charlotte Woodiwiss, a promising student in the final year of an art degree.
Her body was found on December 22 in a flat in the picture-postcard town of Chapel-en-le-Frith in Derbyshire. As her funeral was held there yesterday, tributes from friends were piling up on a Facebook tribute page.
Beside them was an emotional message from Charlotte’s uncle, warning teenagers of the perils of taking illegal party drugs.
Dr Death, often shaped like Love Hearts sweets and also called Pink Ecstasy, has the chemical name PMMA. It is thought to be behind a wave of hospital admissions with nine people being rushed in for treatment in the last week.
It is sold to clubbers for as little as £3 a pill and dealers claim it offers a similar high to ecstasy (MDMA) but it is around five times as strong and causes a dangerous rise in body temperature.
The effects also take longer to act than ecstasy causing some users to take pill after pill, leading to fatal doses.
Earlier this month PMMA was linked to the deaths of eight revellers in Canada and there have been other deaths in Eire, Norway and Denmark.
The five suspected UK victims – Charlotte and four men – all died within a 60-mile radius in Manchester, Liverpool and Derbyshire. Charlotte was a student at Macclesfield College in Cheshire.
On her Facebook page, 40-year-old Matt Woodiwiss wrote: ‘I’m Charlotte’s uncle and am absolutely devastated by my family’s loss. Our beautiful girl gone far too early. I am heartened by the fact that so many of you have commented but let this tragic sequence of events teach you a few things.
‘Think long and hard about how you live your lives, about which group of people you hang about with and about who influences you.
It’s all very well writing a few “nice” things on a FB wall but if you carry on living your lives as so many of you are then – as much as it seems like a laugh at the moment – you are running the risk of your families being torn apart with grief like mine is.
‘So, by all means quote the poems and write the testimonials, but don’t let our little girl’s tragic death be in vain. Some of you have the chance to be shining stars whilst still here, and believe me that is far better than being one in death.
‘So remember Charlotte with happiness, remember her vitality, carry on loving her as some of you did, and most of all learn from this as that is the best testament that you can give to my beautiful niece.’
The second victim was 18-year-old Dale Yates, who died in a flat in the neighbouring town of Buxton on December 23.
His father Lawrence Beever, 40, said: ‘So many kids take these recreational drugs but they just don’t know what’s in them. They go out to parties, they see their friends taking them, so they have some too, and they don’t realise they’re playing Russian roulette. These pills are deadly, and whoever made them needs to be caught and locked up.’
Mr Beever, who is separated from Dale’s mother, Carol, said his son was ‘just a really lovely, likeable lad’ who hoped to follow him into the offshore oil and gas industry.
In the wake of the deaths, police made 11 arrests in a series of raids in Derbyshire and warned recreational users of the dangers of using Pink Ecstasy.
Then last weekend three men died after taking similar drugs within the space of 24 hours. Gareth Ashton, 28, a plasterer from Wigan, suffered an adverse reaction after he apparently took the drug and began sweating profusely.
He went out into his girlfriend’s freezing garden to cool down and collapsed from a massive heart attack.
Paramedics were called and he was taken to hospital but suffered another heart attack and died later the same night.
His girlfriend, Catherine Fulton, 29, revealed that their ten-day-old daughter, Millie Mai, had died of a chest infection a year ago. She said: ‘It was the one year anniversary since her death on January 16 and then four days later Gareth had gone too.
Christmas was hard because it was without Millie and we should have had her there. But Gareth was my rock and I wouldn’t have been able to get over her death without Gareth.
This has come as a massive shock not least because he wasn’t a drug abuser. I’d tell other people just not to do drugs.
It ruins the people who are left behind and we have to pick up the pieces. I want this to make people think twice and I hope this opens their eyes to other people’s grief.’
Jordan Chambers, 19, also from Wigan, became the second fatality of the weekend after taking the lethal drug .
A 26-year-old football fan from Glasgow, whose name has not been released, also died on Sunday after collapsing at a guesthouse in Liverpool having taken the ecstasy style drug following a football match at Anfield.
Yesterday police in Greater Manchester confirmed that toxicology tests were taking place and that they are liaising with other forces. They have arrested two men, aged 33 and 34, on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug.
22nd January 2013, By Jaya Narain, James Tozer And Nazia Parveen
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Ecstasy Deaths: Five now dead within 60 mile radius