Chronicles

Suspected Newcastle drug death students may have been in the city for less than 48 hours

Two Newcastle University students whose deaths have been linked to ketamine may have been in the city for less than 48 hours.

The 18 year olds were among four youngsters who police believe suffered drug related deaths over the weekend.

Police also confirmed that a 21-year-old Northumbria University student and an 18-year-old from Washington also died on Saturday, with the latter suffering a cardiac arrest at a property on Coach Road Estate.

Ten people have so far been arrested in connection with the deaths.

All have since been released on bail or under investigation.

Tributes have been paid to one of the Newcastle Uni students, Jeni Larmour, who police found dead at her students halls in Richardson Road.

The former deputy head girl was about to start a degree in architecture and urban planning having moved from Co Armagh, in Northern Ireland.

And in a heartfelt post, The Royal School posted a picture of the beaming teenager in her old uniform while opening up about the “profound sense of sadness” at her loss.

“Jeni came to the Royal School in Year 8 and in the years that followed was a model pupil, exemplifying many of the values which this school seeks to promote,” stated the Armagh school.”

Her outstanding qualities as a pupil were recognised in her final year when she was appointed Deputy Head Girl, a role she carried out to a very high standard.”

It added that Jeni, who was in the chamber choir, was “blessed with a beautiful singing voice” and had starred in a school production of Walt Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

Last October, she also spent ten days helping in a school charity project in the Trilok Puri slum in New Delhi.

“Jeni was a spirited and independently minded girl with clear views which she was happy to articulate in a respectful manner and she was possessed of a well-developed sense of justice,” added the school.

“We have no doubt, that given her academic ability and personality, Jeni had a bright future ahead of her and we are saddened that has been so suddenly cut short.

“We extend to her many friends, her family, brother, and parents our sincerest sympathy at this tragic time and assure them of our prayers and practical support.”

Her body was discovered at 6.05am on Saturday.

Then, at around 1.10pm on Sunday, police discovered another female dead at the same building.

Police believe both had taken ketamine, while the other two deaths – involving two males whose bodies were discovered on Saturday – are thought to have taken MDMA.

At a virtual press conference on Monday, Newcastle University Vice-Chancellor Chris Day revealed the students may have “only been here 24 hours, 48 hours” before tragedy struck.

However, when asked if lockdown measures enforced on the student population had played any part in the deaths, Professor Day said they “almost certainly” hadn’t.

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President of Newcastle University

“This happened in the first 48 hours, so freshers’ week really had only just started to kick off,” he said.

“So I think we couldn’t attribute any lack of a normal fresher’s week as a contributing case at all – it was just too soon.”

Police have now launched an amnesty-of-sorts to try and rid what could potentially be a bad batch of drugs from the streets.

The public can drop off illegal drugs at police stations but Chief Inspector Wykes did not say those who did would avoid any reprimand, adding those who did would face a “proportionate” response.

Police and City Council in city centre locations to combat unlicensed cabs. Pictured Insp Steve Wykes

“My priority is public safety – it is vital we take illegal drugs out of circulation, and in particular drugs which may be dangerous,” he said.

“My objective here is to afford those who may be listening to this, who find themselves in possession of a small amount of drugs the opportunity to dispose of that responsibility.”

Sniffer dogs have since been used, while Chief Inspector Wykes said that on Sunday night, officers searched several university properties.

He said the fact both Newcastle University students were living in the same building was “evidently a line of enquiry” but added that the force was “keeping an open mind” as the investigation continued.

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