SHE was branded a druggie, but she was just a little girl who died," Those are the moving words from the mother of Worthing teenager Gabi Price.
A post-mortem examination concluded Gabi, 14, died from natural causes after being struck down by streptococcal A, an infection which starts in the throat and tragically spread to the teenager's blood and lungs, causing a heart attack.
Her distraught mother, Angie Brown, has spoken exclusively to the Herald about her "beautiful" and "bubbly" daughter, but also about the "absolute nightmare" of having to face allegations and reports that her only child had taken a legal party drug called mephedrone, known as "miaow, miaow".
Angie, 34, of Coleridge Crescent, said: "It has been in all the national papers that she had taken drugs and that she was at a house party.
"She was just at a friend's house and was picked up by the ambulance at 5pm.
"Her friends told me Gabi said she had a sore throat and didn't feel well. The next thing she was unconscious."
Angie added: "It has been an absolute nightmare. I haven't a clue where it came from that drugs were involved.
"I wasn't being told anything from the police and the coroner, but then saw it in the papers, on GMTV and Sky News – seeing all of that does make you think perhaps they know something I don't.
"But I didn't think for one minute she had taken drugs."
Relief and anger
After hearing the news that Gabi died from natural causes, Angie said: "I am pretty relieved but angry as well. This story has been all over the news.
"People from America and Australia have commented on the internet. One person said I should 'face facts' that my daughter's a 'drug addict'.
"It's been awful. She was branded a druggie, but she was just a little girl who died. It was just horrible.
"As a mother, you don't want people thinking you allowed your child to take drugs. She just went to a friend's house and then didn't feel well.
"How could all this stuff about drugs be reported when there was no proof?
Clearing Gabi's name
"I do feel relief, but it's not going to bring her back. But at least now her name is clear."
Angie said her daughter's friends said Gabi started to feel unwell with "a cold" and then collapsed at a house in Brighton on November 21.
The friends called Angie and an ambulance and insisted there were no drugs involved.
Angie said: "They were all arrested and explained what had happened.
"The police also arrested two people so they could search the house, but as far as I'm aware they didn't find anything."
Angie said Gabi spent around an hour in intensive care at the Royal Sussex County Hospital before she died.
Tragically, it was at the Royal Sussex that Gabi was born prematurely on January 27, 1995, weighing just 1lb, 10ozs.
Looking back fondly at her daughter, Angie said she was a "quirky" and "unique" girl who loved fashion and music.
She said: "She loved animals. She idolised my mum's dog, Stella, and she had a hamster called Ollie who used to sit on her shoulder.
"She was very sensitive. She would never go to bed without saying 'goodnight, God bless'.
"She also loved singing and wanted to be a DJ."
Gabi had two half-brothers and two stepsisters. She went to Thomas A'Becket Middle School and Davison High School.
Her funeral has taken place, with donations to Chestnut Tree House hospice.
By Nicola Caines
December 22, 2009