A young teenager in the UK has admitted supplying the ecstasy pills that killed a 13-year-old boy last year.
This week, a youth court heard that, in April of 2019, Carson Price bought three Donkey Kong pills via Snapchat from the defendant, who was 14 at the time and cannot be named because of his age.
After offering one to his friend, Carson – who it is believed had never taken ecstasy before – took all three pills himself in a park near Caerphilly, South Wales. He died after experiencing a “violent reaction" to an overdose of MDMA, according to an inquest last May.
After looking at messages on the defendant’s phone, police discovered that despite knowing about Carson’s death, the defendant continued to source ecstasy pills from his supplier, allegedly a 22-year old still under investigation.
Cwmbran Youth Court was also told the defendant, now 15, had since been caught in possession of a bladed weapon, which he told police had for his own protection and to intimidate people.
District Judge Martin Brown described it as a “shocking situation” that a 14-year-old was making money out of supplying Class A drugs. However, data shows that more teenagers are dying after taking drugs such as ecstasy, and that more are being convicted of selling them.
In 2015, one-fifth (11 of 57) of ecstasy-related deaths recorded in England and Wales involved people aged under 20. By 2018 this proportion had climbed to almost a third (27 out of 92).
As VICE News has previously revealed, rising deaths from MDMA across all age ranges is likely the result of a dramatic rise in the potency of individual pills being produced in Holland and sold across Europe. The use of MDMA is particularly dangerous for inexperienced drug users who have no frame of reference when it comes to dosing or harm reduction.
“Considering that upwards of 600,000 people take ecstasy every year in the UK, thankfully the total number of deaths is relatively low. Many deaths occur after people have taken what would be considered 'normal' doses of 'pure' MDMA,” said Harry Sumnall, professor in substance use at the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University.
“When we're educating young people around the potential risks of MDMA, it's good to focus on practical harm reduction strategies, but also important to emphasise that it's impossible to predict who might be at higher risk, because of their underlying individual biological susceptibilities."
Despite Judge Brown expressing shock that a 14-year-old was selling Class A drugs, the reality is that it is happening on a daily basis around the UK.
According to Freedom of Information data, revealed by VICE News in 2017, around a quarter of all Class A drug supply convictions in England and Wales are of people aged under 21. Between 2013 and 2016 there was a 50 percent jump in people aged under 21 being convicted for selling class As, from 1,031 in 2013 to 1,566 in 2016. Many of these convictions are for selling crack and heroin, increasingly by teenagers “going country” for city drug gangs.
Carson’s family, who arranged a vigil for him at the park, said in a statement: "Our lives changed forever when our little boy was taken away from us. Carson was bright and caring, kind and loving. He was a cheeky little boy. He was the best big brother to Coby and was loved by so many."
Ray Lakeman, a campaigner for Anyone’s Child – a network of families pushing for drug reform – lost two sons, Jacques, 20, and Torin, 19, to an overdose of ecstasy on the same evening in December of 2014 after they bought the drug on the dark web.
“When I talk to young people, particularly when I visit schools, I tell the boys' story and remind those listening that while ecstasy remains illegal, taking it will always be dangerous – and their own lives are at risk,” he told VICE News. “If we want to make drug use safer and better protect our young people, we need to change the current legislation and regulate drugs like these.”
The 15-year-old defendant will be sentenced on the 18th of August.