Louella was the unlucky one - Why those selling drugs should have 'death dealer' on forehead
PUBLISHED: 10:24 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:24 01 March 2019
Louella Fletcher-Michie was the unlucky one.
Countless thousands of people take dangerous drugs at music festivals (and have been doing since at least the 1960s). Most seem to enjoy the experience, some feel dreadful - and a tiny minority die.
Those who take the drugs usually do so knowing there is a slight risk - but it’s outweighed by the frisson of excitement and peril.
So of course Ms Fletcher-Michie shares responsibility for what occurred: a fact acknowledged by her heartbroken family.
She was an intelligent young woman who made a choice.
History has shown that we will never convince all of our young people to “just say no”, any more than shock tactics have convinced everybody to stop smoking.
The secret is to make it harder for people to have a choice. Put simply, if there are no drugs available, there’s no choice.
And that’s where Ceon Broughton comes in.
He’s the boyfriend who supplied 2C-P to Ms Fletcher-Michie at Bestival in Dorset - then filmed her while she lay dying.
He has rightly been convicted of manslaughter, as the act of supplying the drug was aggravated by his shocking failure to help her. He was reckless, callous and criminally negligent.
It’s the sort of awful story that could affect any family. Don’t be complacent enough to think that your perfect child will never fall prey to drugs. Many have made the same mistake, only to reap a bitter harvest of tears and soul-searching.
So where should we stand on drug taking as parents and grandparents?
My response would always be to brand my child an idiot for taking hard drugs. They have all the information they need to know it’s a bad idea.
I would, though, understand that it can happen - and support them in going forward.
But I’d prefer to literally brand the dealer who sold it to them - preferably across the forehead, saying “Death dealer”, to give everyone a heads-up.
In the same way that drug takers know the risks, drug dealers do, too. The difference is, while one person endangers their own life, the other is playing Russian roulette with the life of someone else.
But I’m not sure the law is a strong enough deterrent.
If you’re caught with class A drugs, the charge will either be possession or possession with intent to supply.
Sentences vary according to the nature and quantity of the drug.
It might be enough to deter some who fear a criminal record or a short stretch in prison, but plenty more dealers and suppliers will do the risk assessment and continue to dish out their product.
However, they might think twice if a new offence is introduced -supplying class A drugs with intent to cause manslaughter.
Never mind quibbling about the meaning of “intent”: every dealer of class As knows that they could kill someone every time they make a sale.
So if they are caught with drugs, they should be dealt with as if they are reckless potential killers.
Possession of an unlicensed gun in a dusty attic gets a minimum sentence of five years in prison - even when its owner has forgotten it is there and has no intention of using it.
But at the moment, possession of lethal drugs by a person who has every intention of selling them to someone who will use them is likely to be dealt with far less severely.
Hit the dealers harder. Hopefully more will choose to stop - giving fewer people the choice to start.