A YOUNG Scot has been found dead after taking a legal party drug known as liquid ecstasy.
Stephanie Balcarras, 22, of Hamilton, Lanarkshire, was slumped over a computer at a friend's house in Blackpool. Two people have been arrested in connection with her death.
Ms Balcarras is believed to have taken GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) – a chemical found in household items such as paintstripper – while clubbing in the seaside resort.
She had been staying with her sister Laura Jane in Blackpool for a year, but was at a friend's house the night before she was found dead, on Saturday morning.
A post-mortem examination was inconclusive and Ms Balcarras' family are awaiting the results of a toxicology report.
Speaking before Ms Balcarras' funeral in Blantyre yesterday, her mother, Teresa Kerrigan, of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, said police believed her daughter had taken drugs.
She said: "The police told my other daughter, Laura Jane, that it was a drugs overdose and that she was found slumped over a computer. They think it's a legal drug called GBL."
She added: "I want young people and parents to be aware of the dangers of all drugs. We don't want another family to go through the heartache we did."
Ms Kerrigan paid tribute to her daughter, whose funeral was held at the South Lanarkshire Crematorium.
She said: "Everyone had a good word to say about her. She was a beautiful and wonderful young girl. It's not something you think is ever going to happen to you. The last thing I wanted to do was bury one of my kids."
Ms Balcarras, who was unemployed, had lived on and off with her aunt and uncle, Katherine and William Maxwell. The couple, also from Hamilton, paid tribute to their "fun-loving, outgoing" niece, who always put her family first.
Mrs Maxwell, 41, said: "Stephanie was very trusting and she loved her family – they meant the world to her."
Ms Balcarras' sister, Laura Jane, paid tribute to her on the social networking site Facebook, writing: "My sister, my best friend, my everything."
Last night, a Lancashire Constabulary spokeswoman said: "A 42-year-old man from Lytham St Anne's has been arrested on suspicion of murder and possession of Class-A drugs. A 25-year-old woman from Lytham St Anne's has been arrested for assisting an offender." Both have been given bail pending further inquiries.
GBL is thought to have caused about 20 deaths in the UK. In April, medical student Hester Stewart, 21, was found dead in a house in Brighton after taking the drug.
Student Chris Dyer, 24, from Peebles, died in March after becoming addicted to GBL. He had been left paralysed after a fall while taking the drug, but was unable to give it up.
GBL, which is similar to the date-rape drug GHB, is legal, although it is set to be banned before the end of the year.
The government recently launched a £200,000 publicity campaign about its dangers. Prof Neil McKeganey, of Glasgow University's Centre for Drug Misuse Research, said a ban could see similar action being taken to counter glue-sniffing.
By FIONA MACLEOD
October 30, 2009