Northern Ireland

Portadown mother's warning about underage drinking after daughter hospitalised

Drink Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption It is far too easy for young people to get alcohol says Paula

A mother whose 13-year-old daughter was found "intoxicated and unresponsive" in the street has shared her story as a warning to other parents.

Paula, who did not want to give her surname to protect her daughter Catherine, was at home on a "normal" Saturday afternoon when police called.

They said they had found Catherine and taken her to Craigavon Area Hospital.

At the time, Paula issued an appeal through a police Facebook page and has now spoken exclusively to the BBC.

Paula said she couldn't believe what had happened because her daughter had been safe at home just a few hours earlier.

When she arrived at the hospital after a call from the police, she found her child "grey and in soaking wet clothes".

Catherine told her mum she was going into Portadown town centre at about 14:30 GMT to do some shopping with her friends.

But she was picked up by police at about 17:00 GMT drunk and with a head injury.

Her mother has since learned that the youngster met with her friends and arranged for someone to buy them a bottle of vodka, which they all "chipped in" £2 to pay for.

Catherine said she didn't know the person who bought the alcohol and she had never had a drink before.

Tears

"The vodka which hospitalised her only cost £2. I thought I knew where she was," Paula said.

"When the police called me I was terrified, they said Catherine had a head injury and wasn't responding.

"I have other children and nothing like this has ever happened.

"We've never had any trouble with Catherine before, she is a largely sensible and well-behaved young girl.

"When I arrived at the hospital I burst into tears at the sight of her lying there."

The teenager was resuscitated and spent the night in hospital on a drip. She needed a CT scan for an injury to her head and her body temperature was low from the cold that day.

She told her mother she does not remember anything after she started drinking the alcohol.

Afraid

Paula said: "It scares me to think what could have happened if the police hadn't come across Catherine.

"She doesn't remember anything and we've now had a full and frank discussion about how much danger she was in.

"The alcohol didn't cost much, it was obviously easy for the girls to get hold of and it didn't take long for them to get so drunk that they were in danger.

"You cannot keep children in the house forever.

"Catherine won't be allowed out again until the trust that we had is built back up, but it won't stop me from being afraid of what could happen to her now.

"She wants to get back to normal as soon as possible, but I won't ever be able to forget how she looked that day she was lying in hospital."

Paula has also praised the police officers who took Catherine to hospital and have come to see her at home since.

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