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Daughter drug death father jailed

A father who took ecstasy with his 17-year-old daughter and failed to get her medical help for more than an hour after supplying her with the class A drug has been jailed for five years and four months.

Jason Wilkes was told that although there was no suggestion that it was ever his intention to set about a course of conduct that would lead to Chloe Wilkes' death there were features of gross negligence, Maidstone Crown Court heard.

Sentencing Wilkes, 45, Judge Philip Statman said: "You will lead the rest of your life knowing that your conduct led to the death of your daughter who in my judgment you loved.

"That's an enormous burden for you to have to carry with you, but it is not just your burden.

"She is lost to her mother, brother and her extended family, a life tragically cut short."

Wilkes drove his daughter from their home in Ashford, Kent, to a woodland area on the edge of the town, and then to an industrial estate where he worked, in an attempt to cool her down rather than taking her to the nearest hospital which was under three miles away after she complained of feeling unwell, the court was told.

If he had sought medical help for her as soon as he realised she was unwell, hospital staff might have been able to stop her overheating, which caused her heart to stop, the court heard.

Wilkes had been due to stand trial over his daughter's death but pleaded guilty today to Chloe's manslaughter by causing her to take a noxious substance.

The court heard he pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to supplying her with MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.

Judge Statman said a victim impact statement written by Chloe's mother Elainor Wright was "profound" and "one could not think of anything worse for a mother to have to go through".

He said "appropriate boundaries" between father and daughter were "clearly not in place".

Mark Weekes, representing Wilkes, said in attempting to discipline his daughter over her drug use in previous years he had pushed her away, and he had "adopted an inappropriate open relationship" with the "strong-willed" and "independent" teenager when she came to live with him again in 2011.

He said Wilkes grew up without a father figure of his own, which could account for his own lack of parenting skills.

He said: "The acute anguish her father now feels at her death is heightened by the fact that he feels morally and now legally responsible for it, and that is something he will have to live with."

Wilkes and his daughter took drugs, including ecstasy and cocaine, together at least three times before but text messages between them showed it was a regular occurrence, prosecutor James Mulholland QC told the court.

Wilkes, who could be seen crying in the dock, would buy the drugs and split them between himself and his daughter, who was not employed or attending college at the time of her death, he said.

On the evening of July 25 last year, Wilkes and Chloe took a gram of cocaine and a gram of MDMA between them, staying up all night, the court heard.

The following day, Wilkes bought another gram of MDMA and once his 13-year-old son, Chloe's brother, had gone to bed, father and daughter each wrapped half a gram of the drug up in a cigarette paper and swallowed it with water, "a method of ingestion called bombing", the prosecutor said.

By 1am on July 27, Chloe had started to become agitated and disorientated, Mr Mulholland said.

Wilkes first took her into the back garden of their home before loading her barefoot into the back of his car and driving her to a wooded area known as The Warren where she began talking nonsense and rambling, the court was told.

But rather than taking her to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, which was less than three miles away, he drove her to RK Resource on the Henwood Industrial Estate where he worked and tried to use a fan to cool her down, Mr Mulholland said.

He eventually called 999 at 2.01am, telling the operator his daughter was not breathing and that she did not have a pulse.

Medical staff fought for hours to save her but she died later that day, the court heard.

A toxicology report showed that Chloe had 3.1mg of MDMA per litre in her blood, enough to prove fatal. Cocaine was also found in her blood, the court heard.

Wilkes, who split up with Chloe's mother when she was nine or 10, told police his daughter had been taking drugs, including MDMA and ketamine, since she was 13 years old, the court heard.

He said he had told Chloe during the week that he felt "like getting on it" and she agreed so he spent about £160 on drugs over the weekend, Mr Mulholland said.

Her friend Tiffany East told police that Chloe regularly used cannabis and speed but her drug use had become more frequent and the level of drugs harder once they left school, the court heard.

He said Chloe had drug dealer contacts which her father would also use and text messages between the pair which related to drug usage were "juvenile", "light-hearted and enthusiastic".

Mr Mulholland said: "If Chloe Wilkes had been rushed to hospital after she began feeling unwell, the medical staff would have been able to determine that she was overheating, and would have been able to stabilise her airway, breathing and circulation.

"They would have monitored her heart rate and would have been able to address those problems.

"That opportunity was denied to Chloe by the actions of her father. That failure played a subsequent part in her death."

Following the sentence, Chloe's mother was too upset to comment.

Detective Inspector Richard Vickery, from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, said: "Irrespective of the sentence, this is just a tragic case and first and foremost our thoughts are with her mum, brother and extended family.

"He was there as Chloe's role model and father. She was an impressionable teenager and she clearly looked up to her father.

"Not only did he legitimise the taking of class A drugs, he actively encouraged it, which is inconceivable to me as a father myself.

"Chloe's case absolutely compounds the inherent dangers of taking any class A drugs.

"I do not know what was going on in his mind. Only he can tell us that, but he drove her around for an hour before medical assistance was obtained.

"He denied her the chance of survival."

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