Leah Heyes: Her mum's emotional plea on drugs, as two are jailed over North Yorkshire teenager's death

Two men have been jailed for supplying the illegal drugs that North Yorkshire teenager Leah Heyes took on the night she died.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Monday, 16th November 2020, 5:08 pm
Updated Monday, 16th November 2020, 5:12 pm

Connor Kirkwood, 18, from Dishforth, and Mitchell Southern, 19, from Thirsk, both pleaded guilty to supplying MDMA, also known as ecstasy, at Teesside Crown Court earlier this year. Kirkwood also pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine.

They were sentenced at Teesside Crown Court today. Kirkwood was given 21 months' imprisonment and Southern was given 12 months' imprisonment.

Leah, 15, died on the night of May 11 2019 after taking MDMA in the Applegarth park in Northallerton.

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Four images of Leah, released by police.

The drugs were brought into Northallerton by Kirkwood, with Southern handing them over to Leah, wrapping them in a cigarette paper to create what is known as a ‘bomb’.

Leah collapsed shortly after taking them, and despite the efforts of medical staff, died later that night at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Leah’s mother, Kerry Roberts issued the following statement:

“We miss Leah every day, her death left a huge hole in our lives that can never be filled. No sentence can ever change that, but what we do wish for, is for young people to realise the deadly consequences of taking drugs. That adults are not just saying they are dangerous to spoil your fun, but that you truly understand how dangerous they are. You have your whole life ahead of you, please don’t risk losing it. If Leah’s death has not made you think twice, what will?

Connor Kirkwood, left, and Mitchell Southern

“I would not want any other family to go through the devastation of losing a child in such horrendous and needless circumstances. She went out to spend time with her friends and have fun that night. And she never came back. We’ll never see her again, we’ll never speak to her again, her baby sister will never know her.

“To parents I urge you to really know what your children are doing, find out more about the dangers of drugs and don’t think that just because your children tell you they don’t take them, that they really don’t.”

Det Insp Eamonn Clarke, of Northallerton CID, said: “Our thoughts remain with Leah’s family at this time. Her death was an absolute tragedy that has left a family devastated and the local community in shock.

"We plead with parents to make sure they know what their children are doing and to educate them on the harm that drugs can cause, and there is no greater harm than the death of a young person who had her whole life ahead of her.

“North Yorkshire Police continues to prioritise the disruption of drug supply and bring those responsible to justice. We have teams across the county dedicated to disrupting dealers and protecting vulnerable people.

"Our action is directed by information, and much of that information comes from local communities. So we need the public’s help, we need your information about drugs and drug dealing in your neighbourhood.

"Please look out for the signs and call the police. If you don’t want to speak to the police you can call Crimestoppers anonymously. No matter how small the piece of information, it will all help to make up a bigger picture, so please call it in.”

If you are worried that your child may be taking drugs, visit northyorkshire.police.uk/staying-safe/drugshelp or one of the websites listed below.

Frank – for honest information about drugs www.talktofrank.com

Mentor UK – get the facts about young people and drugs https://mentoruk.org.uk/get-the-facts/

The Mix – essential support for young people from relationships to drugs to money https://www.themix.org.uk/

Mentor-ADEPIS – information for schools and practitioners working in drug and alcohol prevention http://mentor-adepis.org/about-us/

Rise Above Digital Hub – Public Health campaign resources for practitioners Rise Above resources

Fearless – non-judgemental advice about crime and drugs for young people. You can also report information anonymously Fearless.org/en

Crimestoppers – anonymous reporting: If you have any information about drug dealing in your neighbourhood and don’t want to speak to the police, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online www.crimestoppers-uk.org