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Grieving parents urge teenagers to beware of psychoactive substances

Leah Kerry ‘thought she was invincible’ and ‘rolled the dice’, the 15-year-old’s parents said.

The parents of a 15-year-old girl who died after reportedly taking a new psychoactive substance have urged other teenagers to “make better and safer choices”.

Leah Kerry was found unconscious in Bakers Park in Newton Abbot, Devon, after apparently taking a new psychoactive substance (NPS), formerly known as a legal high.

She was taken to Torbay District Hospital at around 4.50am on July 15 and died there later with her parents at her bedside.

Two other girls, believed to have taken the same substance, were taken to hospital as a precaution and released later.

In a statement issued through Devon and Cornwall Police, Leah’s family described her death as “the most painful experience that we have all ever had to endure”.

“Leah was a delightful strong-willed, caring and compassionate child and had developed into a courageous and confident young woman who was ready to take on the world,” they said.

“Leah had really started to engage in her education and for the first time since leaving primary school, felt very well accepted and supported by her school setting in Salisbury.

“She had a real love of expensive make-up products and ambitions of following her dreams of doing make-up and beauty professionally.

“This was a talent that she had already mastered on herself, Leah loved to look nice, she would never leave the house without her Jeffrey Star Highlighter being over zealously applied and she shimmered and shone her way through her life.”

The family said Leah lit up “any room she walked into with her incredible personality, sense of humour, striking looks and demeanour”.

“Leah had the benefit of good information and advice from many different sources at various intervals of her adolescent life,” her family added.

“Leah was well aware of the nature of different illicit substances and the risks attached. “Sadly, despite being well aware of the risks, she thought she was invincible and she rolled the dice and has paid the ultimate price.”

The family also asked for the government to place the dangers of psychoactive substances at the top of their agenda following the Drugs Strategy for 2017, published the day before Leah’s death.

The Psychoactive Substances Act, which came into effect in May 2016, made it illegal to produce, supply or import NPS for human consumption.

Jacob Khanlarian, 20, from Newton Abbot, has been charged with two counts of supplying MDMA and one count of supplying cannabis.

He appeared at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court on July 17 and was remanded in custody.

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