Julie Birtwistle admitted she delayed calling an ambulance despite three teens aged 14 and 15 appeared fighting for their lives after they took the synthetic Alpha PVP pills, also known as flakka.
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The incident happened in January last year, the boys had been staying at Birtwistle’s home in Bury, Greater Manchester when they found the ecstasy-like pills that belonged to Birtwistle’s son, Craig Williams, in a shoebox in the lounge. The teens took 14 pills each while Birtwistle was asleep, then they went to her room asking for help.
One boy tried to dial 999 but he was cut off by Birtwistle and refused the offer of an ambulance
The operator called back, she answered and replied
“We're okay thank you - sorry about that."
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Williams had been at a party overnight and went home, he saw the boys going in and out of his mother’s room and being told to go back to bed.
A friend, who also at the property, raised an alarm after noticing that the boys had begun ‘shaking.’
Eventually, Birtwistle agreed to call for medics after she seen the boys had dilated eyes.
In her call, she said:
“Throughout the night, I’ve noticed the children are not sleeping and I’ve just been keeping an eye on them. They are actually hallucinating, saying that people are coming to get them and saying there’s spiders everywhere and stuff like that. They’ve not seemed to have slept tonight and they’re hallucinating and saying that things are coming for them. I suspect that they’ve taken something. They’re alright, they’re just hallucinating, talking about spiders and stuff.”
The boys were rushed to the A&E department of North Manchester General Hospital. Two of them seemed significantly agitated and had severe paranoid thoughts that ‘there were men with guns trying to get in’.
The third boy later developed abnormal facial twitching and a blanching red facial rash, and became very agitated and his speech slurred.
Geoff Whelan, prosecutor said:
“It took five members of staff to restrain him so that he did not harm himself or other people.”
Everyone made a miraculous recovery despite the adverse reactions lasting at least 20 hours.
Birtwistle appeared and later on admitted to child cruelty at Minshull Street Crown Court after the incident. She was given 16-month sentence suspended for two years.
Judge John Potter told Birtwistle:
“You were prioritising the needs of yourself and others above those of the children. You were seeking to avoid the consequences of the events that had unfolded and also maybe out of misguided signs of loyalty towards your son who, as I am sure you knew, brought these drugs into the house. These were selfish acts on your behalf and placed these children in very great peril indeed.”
The court heard the boys believe the drugs were ecstasy and the teens started consuming the pills at 9 pm and take it every 30 minutes for seven hours.
Prosecutor Whelan told the court:
“The substance had a severe impact and was life threatening. The high from Alpha-PVP can last 3-5 hours but many users report it can be subtle at first and slow to come on and this has caused some to use more than they intended with unpleasant results. Alpha-PVP has been reported to be the cause of death in suicides and overdoses. The conditions of the three boys were judged so serious they had to be put into induced comas and it was uncertain they would survive.”
Police recovered a total of 485 tablets from the house, which would have been sold on the street for £10 a pill.
Birtwistle told the court the pills belonged to William, who admitted himself that he is possessing drugs with intent to supply and was jailed for 22 months.
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Flakka, a dirt-cheap drug, can cause racing heart rate, agitation, high blood pressure, hallucination, and delirium. It can prove fatal, especially when combined with other drugs. The class B man-made drug is extremely addictive that gets imported from China. Intake of Flakka leads to zombie-like psychotic breaks and cannibalistic attacks.
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