Oxford

Martha Fernback ecstasy death: Mother calls for drugs legalisation

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Media captionMartha Fernback's mother says she wants to make it safer for teenagers to "dabble"

A woman whose 15-year-old daughter died after taking ecstasy has called for drugs to be legalised and regulated.

Anne-Marie Cockburn urged politicians to change UK drug policy after the inquest into the death of her daughter Martha Fernback.

Oxford schoolgirl Martha suffered a cardiac arrest on 20 July 2013, after swallowing half a gram of 91% pure MDMA powder in the city's Hinksey Park.

"Martha wanted to get high, she didn't want to die," said Ms Cockburn.

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Image caption Anne-Marie Cockburn has written a book about her daughter called 5,742 days

"No parent wants either, but one of those is preferable to the other," she said after the hearing at Oxfordshire Coroner's Court.

The inquest heard that the average street-level purity of ecstasy is 58%.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Ms Cockburn said: "It has been 328 days since my precious girl was safely by my side.

"I wish Martha was sitting her GCSEs alongside her friends at school right now.

"I wish the drug education she received had enabled her to make a more fully informed decision, instead of leaving her so vulnerable and in danger.

"I would like to meet with Theresa May, Norman Baker and Yvette Cooper to start a sensible dialogue for change, from prohibition to strict and responsible regulation of recreational drugs.

"This will help to safeguard our children and lead to a safer society for us all by putting doctors and pharmacists, not dealers, in control of drugs."

Crime prevention minister Norman Baker said: "All drug-related deaths are tragic and my sympathy goes to Martha's mother.

"The UK's approach on drugs remains clear: we must prevent drug use in our communities, help dependent individuals through treatment and wider recovery support, while ensuring law enforcement protects society by stopping the supply."

He added: "We do not assume that we have nothing to learn from others, which is why we are conducting an international study to examine the approaches other countries are taking on drugs."

Following Martha's death, Ms Cockburn set up a website and has written a book called 5,742 days - the number of days Martha lived - to tell others about the dangers of drugs.

Alex Williams, 17, of Sycamore Road, Botley, was given a community sentence in March for supplying the drugs that killed Martha.

In March, Ms Cockburn told the BBC she wanted to work with Williams to offer drug education talks to young people.

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