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'Remember my son Jamie... and don't make the same fatal mistake he did'

Father of drug death student pens an emotional online warning to other young people

By Angela Rainey

A distraught father has written an emotional online letter to his son, who died from taking a single ecstasy tablet, to warn others of the dangers of drugs.

Billy Burns remains heartbroken over the death of his only son Jamie (23) who passed away in November after taking the pill during a night out at Queen's University Students' Union.

Jamie, from north Belfast, was a student of Northern Regional College.

Now, in a bid to prevent others from suffering the same grief, the family are backing the anti-drugs campaign #1pillwillkill.

In a Facebook letter addressed to his son, Mr Burns recalls how his happy memories of Jamie are now harrowing reminders of the void that his son's death has left.

He wrote: "Dear Jamie, I'm sitting here son, watching videos of you having a laugh, smiling and joking - even trying to dance in some - so funny. For a spilt second I forget you're dead. Then the realisation hits me - no more laughing, no more dancing, no more anything. Only things I have are memories now."

His father urges others to think of their families and the trail of devastation which a death through drugs can leave behind.

Mr Burns added: "Every time I go upstairs and look up I expect to hear you shouting about Fifa or hear you walking about your room, but it's all gone now never to be seen or heard again - all because of one pill!

"When are the youth going to learn?

"Every time you take a pill or sniff a line of something, you at some point could end up like my son - dead.

"Don't make the same mistake as Jamie Burns. If you don't care what happens to you, think about who you leave behind - your mum, dad, brothers and sisters.

"This holiday season when you are out remember Jamie Burns, if you are offered drugs, which I am sure you will be, or are tempted to take some - say no."

Meanwhile, the Department of Health urge people not to buy a prescription drug that has been sold on the black market here.

It follows concerns about the illegal manufacture of pregabalin, also known as 'Lyrica' or on the street as 'Budweiser' in Northern Ireland. The prescription-only drug is used to treat epilepsy and neuropathic pain, and can be deadly when washed down by alcohol.

Senior Medicines Enforcement officer Peter Moore said: "The Department is aware that distinctive red and white capsules containing the prescription-only medicine pregabalin may have been illegally manufactured for circulation on the black market.

"Be in no doubt that medicines sourced in this way present a real danger to those taking them. Young people in particular may be unaware of the potentially fatal consequences of taking these drugs, particularly when taken with alcohol."

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