Devon

Tyler Peck drugs death: Mother jailed for 10 years

Holly Strawbridge Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Holly Strawbridge denied child cruelty and supplying a Class A drug

A mother who gave her son prescription drugs that led to his death has been jailed for 10 years.

Tyler Peck, 15, was found dead at his mother Holly Strawbridge's home the morning after a drugs binge in February last year.

Strawbridge, 34, of Salcombe in Devon, was found guilty last year of supplying Class A drugs to another child under 16 and two counts of child cruelty.

Tyler died from an overdose of morphine drug Oramorph and Gabapentin.

Social workers described him in court as a "bright, thoughtful and caring young man".

Image copyright Family Photo
Image caption Tyler Peck was found dead at his mother's house in Salcombe

Sentencing Strawbridge at Plymouth Crown Court, Judge Paul Darlow said she was guilty of "wilful ill-treatment" of her son and "condoned" his drug taking.

He said she was "either defensive, obstructive or undermining" of social workers who offered help.

Judge Darlow went on to say it was "callous and unreasonable" to blame two 15-year-olds, who were with her and Tyler on the night of the drugs binge, for what happened.

A post-mortem examination found the levels of Oramorph and Gabapentin in Tyler's system were such that either drug could have individually caused his death.

The judge said what happened to Tyler had to be seen against a background of Strawbridge condoning drug-taking in her home.

"It can't be said that the events of that night were a one-off, tragic incident where nothing of the sort had ever happened before," he told Strawbridge.

The mother-of-five had a "misguided pride" in her house being a place where teenagers could come and "get hammered", Judge Darlow said.

Image copyright Kingsbride Youth for Christ/Facebook
Image caption Tyler's death was marked at Kingsbridge Community College with a scroll of messages

The court heard Tyler was headstrong and sometimes physically intimidating, with Strawbridge allowing him to consume drugs and alcohol to deal with this.

Prosecuting, Peter Coombe said there was evidence that Strawbridge had been supplying Tyler with drugs and alcohol "for some years" before his death.

Representing Strawbridge, Piers Norsworthy described his client as a "loving mother" and said she had been assessed as having a low IQ.

Det Insp Ian Ringrose said Strawbridge had "total disregard for the safety of young people" including her son and "that led to the ultimate tragedy of the loss of life".

He praised Tyler's friends for coming forward with evidence, which was "traumatic" for them, about what happened on the night.

A memorial garden in Tyler's memory is being put together at his former school, Dart Academy near Totnes.

A scroll in memory of Tyler was signed by pupils at another former school, Kingsbridge Community College.

Tyler Peck timeline:

  • January 2018: Taken to Torbay Hospital after overdosing on 15 Valium pills
  • 1 February 2019: Spends evening with friends in Kingsbridge before getting bus to friend's house in nearby Malborough where he drank and took ecstasy
  • 23:00: He is given a lift by friend's father to his mother's house in Salcombe
  • 2 February, 12:45: Emergency services called to house after Tyler found not breathing. He is declared dead
  • 5 June: Holly Strawbridge charged with two counts of supplying a Class A drug and two counts of child cruelty contrary to Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act

Tyler's father, Ryan Peck, and stepmother, Sam Kibbler, said after the case that Tyler was "funny, affectionate and caring".

Tyler was "one of the lads, protective, loving and unique, and we miss him dearly," they said in a statement.

"We are glad that justice has finally been served and we can now try to find a way to move forward."

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