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‘Brodie was loved by everyone’ - family warning after two Norfolk legal high deaths

PUBLISHED: 08:10 26 June 2015 | UPDATED: 14:49 26 June 2015

Brodie Harrison-Merritt

Brodie Harrison-Merritt

Archant

The family of a Norfolk man, who died after taking a legal high, have issued a desperate plea to others to stay away from the substances.

Brodie Harrison-Merritt was one of two friends who died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, after taking a drug known as AMT.

The 28-year-old fell ill after ingesting the substance, along with Jay Giddings, 25.

They had been staying at a flat in the city with a group of friends, but had gone out while the others were sleeping. When they returned, both men were feeling unwell and were taken to hospital.

Mr Giddings died shortly after being admitted. Mr Harrison-Merritt passed away two days later.

Following an inquest into their deaths yesterday, Mr Harrison-Merritt’s mother Fay Harrison, 55, said: “People take these drugs thinking that because they are legal, they are safe, which is not the case.

“Legal drugs are just as lethal as illegal drugs and I would urge people to not take them.”

His sister Phoebe Harrison, 23, added: “I’ve lost my big brother because of something he didn’t know would kill him.

“Brodie was loved by everyone, he was a lovely gentle person and we are all going to miss him very much.”

The inquest at Norwich Magistrates Court heard how the pair had been at a house on Norfolk Street with four other friends, before their deaths. The others woke up on January 7, to realise that they had left the house.

Gregory Balding, one of the friends, said: “When Brodie returned that morning his eyes were really wide, his teeth were chattering and he was trembling.

“He was struggling and wanted to lie down, and after about 30 seconds I realised his breathing went shallow, so I put him into the recovery position and tried to help him, while someone else called an ambulance.

“He was taken to hospital and not long later Jay came back and he was having the same problems.”

Jay Giddings, of Edmund Road, Brandon died at 10.16am that morning, while Mr Harrison-Merritt, of Florence Walk, Dereham, died two days later.

AMT, also known as alpha-methyltryptamine, is a hallucinogenic stimulant drug which is very active in small doses. The drug became illegal on the day Mr Giddings died.

Although the authorities have announced a range of measures to tackle legal highs, experts say that it is a complex issue to combat, and that too many people are still taking them.

Detective Matthew Stewart of Norwich CID said that a large quantity of drugs including cannabis and white powder believed to be a Class A drug were found in the property on Norfolk Road.

He added that there was no evidence to suggest how Mr Giddings and Mr Harrison-Merritt came across the AMT drug.

Norfolk Constabulary’s drug liaison officer, DC Steve Hamilton said: “I would urge people not to be tempted in taking AMT.

“We would also advise people that often the substances within legal highs are illegal and not what you find listed on the label.”

Post-mortem reports showed that both men died as a result of the toxic affect of AMT.

Assistant coroner Johanna Thompson concluded that both men died as a result of drug related deaths.

Naomi Selim, services manager at the Matthew Project said: “Legal highs have been easier to find and people have become more aware of them.

“People think they are not committing a crime and therefore assume that because it is legal they are safe which has become a big issue.

“15pc of our clients have used them, but hopefully changes in legislation and people becoming more aware that these drugs are not safe, will mean that these numbers will drop.”

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