Belfast Telegraph

Cocktail of drugs claims the life of a popular teen who 'had the world at her feet'

BY AMANDA FERGUSON

A lethal cocktail of drugs is believed to have claimed the life of a teenager following a party which lasted for several days in east Belfast.

On Wednesday afternoon paramedics rushed Dundonald teenager Paula Crothers (19) to the Royal Victoria Hospital from a house in Ravenhill Avenue.

Despite the best efforts of the medical team she died on Wednesday night.

A police spokesman said a 23-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of a drugs offence.

It is understood two young men at the party presented themselves at hospital for a check-up. One is still being treated in hospital.

One of Paula's friends told the Belfast Telegraph her sudden death had left everyone stunned.

"She was the kindest, most loyal and decent human being," the friend said. "She had the world at her feet."

It's thought Paula's tragic death could be linked to a recurring problem with a so-called bad batch of illegal ecstasy pills circulating among recreational drug users in the east of the city.

East Belfast councillor Gavin Robinson said that Paula had been at an "extended party" where young people were consuming "a cocktail of alcohol, legal highs and stimulants and illegal drugs".

"The death of Paula Crothers is a tragedy," the DUP man said.

"What has happened is another disastrous indicator there is no safe intake of drugs, illegal or legal. As an issue in east Belfast, this is something we will have to take back to the Community Safety Partnership. The community is being plagued with drugs and young people are losing their lives.

"Drugs are destroying people and their families."

James Scott from the charity Fasa said it will offer any support and counselling Paula's distraught family and friends might need.

Paula, who was in a relationship, was described by friends as a vibrant, sociable and popular young woman.

Those closest to the teenager shared their heartache and grief online yesterday.

Debi-lee Maxwell said: "So gorgeous & funny. Speechless wee babes sleep tight. Xxx"

Becky Kirkwood said: "Such a beautiful girl!... shocking news, lost for words. Will always be in my thoughts.. Night paula.. R.I.P xxxx."

Andy Robinson said: "Wee star takein away so young not fair always in our minds lots of love andy Sleep tight xxxxxxx"

Rhianne English said: "Devistated! Such a beautiful life gone rest easy babe."

Elsewhere on Twitter one man said: "Absolutely horrendous tragedy. Wish everyone would see the danger of drugs!" Meanwhile, PUP councillor John Kyle, a GP in the east of the city, said more has to be done to educate young people about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

"Young people are putting their lives at risk," he said.

"They don't know what they are taking."

Dr Kyle also described the current system in place to support young people with drug issues as "much too slow and ponderous".

"It's a difficult and fraught area," he said.

"Young people's motivation to tackle addiction tends to come and go.

"A rapid response service is needed rather than them waiting four weeks to see a psychiatric professional.

"They should be able to walk in and get counselling that day."

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