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Friend of Joana Burns could go to jail for supplying the MDMA that caused her death

Joana Burns died after taking a quarter of a gram on her final night out as a student


The friend who supplied Sheffield Hallam student Joana Burns with MDMA on the night she died has been told she could face jail.

Fellow Hallam student Katherine Lavin, 21, appeared in court today after admitting to supplying MDMA to Joana, as well as possession of cannabis. Another former Hallam student, Benjamin Williams, 25, appeared in court alongside Katherine after also admitting to supplying the class A drug.

Joana's boyfriend, Lewis Birch, said he paid £14 for two quarters of MDMA whilst Joana had taken a quarter, £7 worth. Birch told the inquest the rest of the group who had taken the drug was unharmed.

The group had made the MDMA into bombs, with Joana taking a second bomb in the early hours of the morning, vomiting immediately afterwards and then collapsing at 5.50am in the Glossop Road area. She was rushed to hospital but died later that night.

Joana had been on a night out with friends at The Tuesday Club, celebrating completing her Maths degree, at Sheffield Students' Union on June 6th 2017.

A pathologist told the inquest the MDMA may have reacted with enzymes in Joana’s body, making it overheat, telling the inquest: "There’s no such thing as a safe drug, particularly with this kind of psychoactive substance."

Today in court, both Katherine Lavin and Benjamin Williams were told they face a custodial sentence for their actions in relation to the death of Joana.

The judge, Jeremy Richardson QC, declined to sentence her and Benjamin without a pre-sentence report, but said: "These are serious matters. All sentencing options remain open and that includes being sent to prison. Please read nothing into into the fact that pre-sentence reports are required and please read nothing into the fact you are being given bail."

Katherine Lavin and Benjamin Williams will be sentenced on October 12th.

Lewis Birch said: "I will always love you and you will be in my heart forever. I will never forget you and would give absolutely everything to have you back in my life.

"If anyone is ever thinking of taking any sort of drug – don’t full stop. It has torn my life apart. I am absolutely crushed right now."

Burns’s mother, Mosca Burns, said in May that taking ecstasy was "not worth the risk".

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