Man admits selling schoolgirl ecstasy day before she died

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A man has admitted supplying ecstasy to a 15-year-old girl who later died after reportedly taking a new psychoactive substance (NPS).

Jacob Khanlarian, 20, of Newton Abbot, Devon, appeared at Exeter Crown Court to plead guilty to five counts of supplying drugs. He admitted supplying MDMA, a Class A drug more commonly known as ecstasy, to schoolgirl Leah Kerry on July 14 this year - the day before her death.

Kerry was found unconscious in Bakers Park in Newton Abbot after apparently taking an NPS, formerly known as a legal high. She was taken to Torbay District Hospital at around 4.50am on July 15, where she died 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.

Jacob Khanlarian pleaded guilty to five counts of supplying drugs at Exeter Crown Court (David Wilcock/PA)
Jacob Khanlarian pleaded guilty to five counts of supplying drugs at Exeter Crown Court (David Wilcock/PA)

Khanlarian pleaded guilty to two charges of supplying MDMA to two others on July 14. He admitted supplying MDMA to others between January 1 2015 and July 15 2017, as well as cannabis between January 1 2013 and July 15 this year. The case was adjourned for toxicology tests to be carried out to establish what role the drugs supplied by Khanlarian played in Leah's death.

Recorder Jeremy Wright told Khanlarian: "We still await the toxicology report and before that it would not be a good idea to pass sentence. Once that is available sentence will be passed so I am adjourning the case until September 22. Until then you will remain in custody."

Representing Khanlarian, Jeffrey Segan told the court: "There was a fatality involved in this case. It would be a betrayal of common sense to suggest that sentence should proceed while there remains some doubt about the exact circumstances and the part played by the drugs supplied by my client."

He added that Khanlarian had no previous convictions and did not ask for a pre-sentence report due to the sentencing guidelines for such cases.

Following Leah's death, her parents issued a tribute through Devon and Cornwall Police describing her as a "courageous and confident young woman who was ready to take on the world".

Family pay touching tribute to Leah Kerry, the 15-year-old girl who died in a drug related death in Newton Abbot. https://t.co/maiFiDOYKQpic.twitter.com/P8xUrVwe4g

-- DevonCornwall Police (@DC_Police) July 24, 2017

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

"If there are any young people who have known Leah, or who have heard about her story, I would urge them on Leah's behalf to not make the same mistake and to make better and safer choices when out in the community.

"If even one young person decides to reduce their risk-taking behaviour and not take these dangerous NPS tablets, then Leah's death has not been in vain."

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