Friday 28 July 2017

Student (22) dies after taking MDMA on 'final fling' night out

Joana Burns
Joana Burns

Alexander Britton

A 22-year-old student died after taking MDMA on a night out which a friend described as a "final fling" to mark the end of university.

Joana Burns had completed a degree in mathematics when she went on a night out at The Foundry at the Sheffield Students' Union building.

According to a report compiled by South Yorkshire Police, Miss Burns and her friends paid £7 each for MDMA - a form of ecstasy - to take during their night out on June 6.

In statements taken by officers, one friend said Miss Burns was not a regular drug user, adding: "It was just supposed to be a one off, 'final fling' to finish university."

Another statement said there was an "understanding/assumption" that the group would take drugs on the night out, while a third said: "About two weeks before (the night out), the subject of drugs came up for discussion.

"Some of us were recreational drug users, including cannabis and MDMA.

"Some of my flatmates wanted MDMA for the night out."

Miss Burns was taken to the Northern General Hospital after falling ill, while another female was also admitted in a critical condition after taking drugs.

Police Constable Paul Briggs from South Yorkshire Police said the drugs box at the venue was "considerably full" of confiscated substances during a visit to the premises a week before the incident.

In a report complied for a licensing hearing at Sheffield City Council, he said: "Within the box, I found 98 packets of a powder substance, 31 packets containing tablets/pills, four cannabis spliffs and nine packets containing cannabis."

A "large quantity" of drugs were also seized by door staff on the night of the incident, the report added.

Temporary Chief Superintendent Shaun Morley said: "From visits to the premises prior to this incident, officers from the licensing team at South Yorkshire Police have recovered a large quantity of drugs which had been seized by door staff.

"It is apparent there is an underlying issue of drugs supply and consumption at the premises."

A fundraising page to establish a memorial fund for Miss Burns has seen more than £1,250 pledged in donations.

On the JustGiving page, a tribute read: "Joana was a wonderful young woman with so much to look forward to. She will be missed not only by her family and friends but by everyone who knew her."

The Foundry said on its website that anyone caught with drugs would be removed from the premises.

"Sheffield Students' Union operates a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs consumption, possession and dealing. If you are found in possession of a controlled substance, you will be asked to leave the venue without refund," it said.

Joana's boyfriend wrote on Facebook; "RIP to the most beautiful amazing girlfriend in the world. I will always love you and you will be in my heart forever.

"I will never forget you and would give absolutely everything to have you back in my life. If anyone is ever thinking of taking any sort of drug don't fullstop it has torn my life apart. I am absolutely crushed right now."

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