Leeds University student left to die next to bins after taking a cocktail of drugs

Police cordoned off the property on Lancaster Park Road (April 2013)
Police cordoned off the property on Lancaster Park Road (April 2013)

A Leeds University student was left to die behind rubbish bins in Harrogate after taking a lethal cocktail of drugs, an inquest heard.

Dentistry student Mariam Ali Shaabam Hussain Khesroh, was found dead behind Brandon Lodge off Lancaster Park Road on the morning of April 10 2013, after taking a combination of ketamine and Heroin.

Mariam had been dragged out of the building and left behind some bins for an hour and a half before an ambulance was called.

The inquest heard that the drugs had contributed to Mariam’s death and that it could have been avoided if medical assistance had been sought sooner.

The 24-year-old student from Kuwait had travelled to Harrogate on April 9 to celebrate after completing her final dentistry exams at Leeds University.

Detective Sergeant Steve Menzies of Harrogate CID, said: “This is a very sad case in which a celebration turned into a tragedy. Mariam was about to embark on a career in dentistry. Unfortunately having just passed her final exams she was never aware that she had her passed her degree.

“The two people in her company were aware of her troubled breathing after she took a cocktail of drugs but no medical assistance was sought. I would expect that most people’s thoughts would have been to get her emergency medical assistance, especially as Harrogate Hospital A&E was directly across the road to Brandon Lodge.

“Mariam was dragged to the rear of the building and left behind some bins. There was a further one and a half hour delay before an ambulance was called.”

Assistant Coroner for North Yorkshire, Geoff Fell recorded a verdict of misadventure on February 26 2014.

North Yorkshire Police and Mr Fell are now highlighting an agreement between emergency services in North Yorkshire which states that the police will not be called to a suspected drugs overdose unless there are suspicious circumstances or the ambulance crew need police assistance.

Mr Fell said: “As this tragic case highlights, time is a crucial factor in cases involving the misuse of drugs and any delay in calling for medical assistance can mean the difference between life and death.

“Our main concern is that people receive the care that they need as quickly as possible, therefore an agreement was introduced in 2007 which means that emergency health workers will not routinely call the police in the event of an apparent drugs overdose.”

Det Sgt Menzies added: “I echo Assistant Coroner, Mr Fell’s comments that there are lessons to be learnt.

“This is a prime example of the serious dangers of taking illicit drugs. I was dismayed to hear a number of witnesses talk in a blasé way about the use of ketamine as a ‘party’ drug. This drug is a horse tranquiliser and unfortunately the misuse of this drug has contributed to the death of Mariam. We also heard evidence from one witness who knew of another person who had died after using ketamine.

“I would strongly urge against the use of illegal drugs. If anybody does use them and suffers any adverse affect, especially and in particular with laboured breathing, they need immediate emergency medical assistance. In that situation ring 999 and ask for an ambulance. You could save a life.

“Miriam’s death could have been avoided and this is a waste of a talented young life. Our thoughts are with Mariam’s family and friends as they try to come to terms with what happened to her.”

No criminal charges were brought against anyone in connection with her death, including those present at the time.

Miriam was awarded her degree posthumously by Leeds University which was collected by a member of her family who attended the graduation ceremony.

There are a range of organisations who can help adults and young people who have drug problems: See Talk to Frank www.talktofrank.com/need-support Tel 0800 77 66 00 or The Gate Community drug treatment service in Harrogate tel 01423 507185.