Family of Shelf student who died after taking MDMA urge others not to make same mistake

Adam Dixon
Adam Dixon
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The parents of a former head boy and star student from Shelf who died after taking MDMA with friends are warning other youngsters against risking suffering their son’s fate.

An inquest heard today how keen musician Adam Dixon, 18, swallowed MDMA with two pals at his university accommodation where they had gathered before the term began.

But after going to bed at around 1am on January 8, his panicked friends found him “unresponsive” at around 5am - and paramedics tragically pronounced him dead shortly after.

At Leeds Coroner’s Court, Coroner David Hinchliff warned that people taking MDMA and ecstasy were playing “Russian roulette” with their lives, and urged young people to learn from Leeds Metropolitan University student Adam’s fate.

After the hearing, Adam’s parents David and Tracey said in a statement: “At a time when students are going to university for the first time, or returning to university after a summer break, we would urge anyone who is even contemplating trying this or any drug to avoid it at all costs.”

In another statement read to the inquest, Mr Dixon said: “Adam was very clever and articulate, he could speak well from 18 months, he knew right from wrong from the age of five and didn’t like to see any injustice.

“Adam was a very loving and thoughtful boy. When his little brother was born he was very protective over him and they became the best of friends.”

He said multimedia technology first-year student Adam, had “wicked sense of humour” and was “academically very bright”, and loved going to school.

Adam had been appointed head boy at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School after being nominated by his teachers and other students, a role which he “really enjoyed”.

He played rugby union for the school team and another club, and had won medals and been voted player of the year.

He also ran a club coaching around 30 nine and 10-year-olds rugby every week - and he helped his mother at her child care business after getting CRB checked.

Adam, who loved playing guitar and drums and was lead vocalist in a band called Signed Anonymous, also played a “significant role” in a fundr aising event to raise money for the Meningitis Trust after losing a school friend to the illness.

“We had so much to look forward to and so many plans,” Mr Dixon said, adding that Adam had been planning to make a speech at his dad’s 50th birthday party and the family had planned a trip to Morocco.

Adam had returned home from university in nearby Leeds to spend Christmas with his family, and they went to a Christmas market together and spent New Year’s Eve at a family meal.

On January 7, Adam had planned to go back to his halls of residence with two friends for a pre-term get-together, and his dad had driven the three to Leeds, planning to pick them up again the next day.

During the car journey, Mr Dixon remembered, the boys were talking about new Playstation games they had got for Christmas.

He had given them some alcohol left over from Christmas and texted his son at just after midnight saying “Goodnight mate, Dad”.

Dr Richard Shepherd, who conducted a post-mortem on Adam, said that the drug had caused his heart to beat irregularly, which would have led to his death.

“Ecstasy is very idiosyncratic and unpredictable in its effects,” Dr Shepherd said. “There is no way of knowing how a body will react to it.”

Detective Constable Ian Harper, who investigated Adam’s death, told the court that statements had been taken from his friends in which they said Adam had bought the drug that night and divided it into three which they drank with water at around 10pm.

They listened to music and danced in the flat until around 1am, when they went to bed.

At around 4.30am, the pair had woken up and it became apparent that there was a problem with Adam, who was sleeping on the bed. They called for an ambulance and the building’s security guard, who performed CPR on Adam until the paramedics arrived. Paramedics pronounced him dead at 5.42am.

Detective Constable Harper added that they had been able to track down someone who they thought was the dealer who supplied the drug, who was on police bail, adding that the inquiry was “still ongoing”.

Recording a cause of death as a consequence of a non-dependent abuse of drugs, Mr Hinchliff said: “You could take ecstasy 100 times and have no effect, yet one time you could be struck. It’s like playing Russian roulette.

“I hope this is a warning to people that this is a very dangerous practice and can end the life of, in Adam’s case, a lovely young man who showed a promising future.”

A statement from Adam’s family given after the hearing said: “We are absolutely devastated by our tragic loss of Adam. We will never come to terms with the loss of this wonderful, bright young man who had everything to live for.

“We are, and always will be extremely proud of Adam. He had a warm, generous personality with a true zest for life.

“Adam had just spent a very happy three weeks with family, his girlfriend Jenny, and friends at our home over Christmas. He had returned to his room for one night at the Halls of Residence with two friends from Halifax, where they had planned to play Adam’s guitar and write some song lyrics. We had arranged to pick all three friends up at 11am the following morning.

“We are led to believe that at some time that evening, all three took MDMA. At

around 1am, they all went to bed. Adam’s friends woke to find his body in the early hours of the morning. Attempts were made to resuscitate him by the emergency services, but to no avail. Adam’s friends were seemingly unaffected by the drug.

“Toxicology reports revealed that Adam had no alcohol at all in his system, but there were high levels of MDMA. We are led to believe it was very pure.

“This was not the drugs and alcohol fuelled party that had previously been portrayed by the press.

“We are aware that Adam was the second student to die from MDMA use in the Headingley area of Leeds since last October, and even recently there has been an ecstasy-related death in the area.

“These are all tragic deaths that could have been avoided.

“The press often refer to drugs as controlled substances. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no control over the manufacture of this potentially deadly substance. We feel that Adam took MDMA, possibly for the first time, after seeing other people take it with no apparent ill affects. As with any drug, different people can be affected in different ways.

“For the sake of family and friends, we would urge anyone not to take it at all, and not make the same simple mistake as our beloved son. Our lives will never be the same again without Adam.”