Busted: Deadly ‘Coma in a Bottle’ legal high was destined for Hartlepool dealer

A man has suffered a severe reaction after taking a legal high.
A man has suffered a severe reaction after taking a legal high.

A consignment of a potentially deadly legal high bound for Hartlepool dealer was intercepted at Stansted airport.

Xanthippe Knott, 30, tried to import a package of the dangerous party drug GBL, nicknamed ‘Coma in a Bottle’, from Poland.

It’s that bad it burns everything if you spill it

Text sent by Elizabeth Jewett to legal high customer

She and fellow dealer Elizabeth Jewett, 21, appeared at Teesside Crown Court on the same day that a local Euro MP called for an EU-wide halt to trade in legal highs.

The liquid solvent, intended to be used as an industrial cleaner, has been linked to a number of deaths elsewhere in the country.

In text messages to customers recovered by police after a raid on Knott’s Hartlepool home, Jewett boasted of its dangerous side effects.

In one Jewett said: “It’s lethal. It’s that bad it burns everything if you spill it.”

In another she said: “We order litres of GBL off their official website and pretend we have a business.”

GBL was widely available legally in Britain until it was reclassified as a class C drug in 2009 following a spate of deaths attributed to it and other legal highs.

Prosecutor Rachel Masters said: “It is sold on the grey market and is often used as an alloy cleaner.

“It has significant corrosive effects on teeth and gums.”

Miss Masters said users take it because for its “warm fuzzy feeling”, increased energy and to stay awake longer. The package seized at the airport, worth £980, was marked with Knott’s address in Hartlepool but was instead sent to Cleveland Police.

When they searched her address, where Jewett was also present, officers found some more of the drug, ketamine, and cannabis.

A notepad with a list of names and values was also recovered as well as two sets of digital scales, cannabis grinders, and grip seal bags.

Christopher McKee, mitigating for Knott, of Cundall Road, said she was dealing with mental health issues linked to her past and would welcome help.

David Lamb, mitigating for Jewett, of Rush Park, Bishop Auckland, said: “It’s clear that the genisys for this operation lay not with her.”

Knott was given two years’ prison suspended for two years with probation supervision. Jewett got 15 months suspended on the same terms. Recorder Bryan Cox QC said: “You must have appreciated how you have come very close to going to prison immediately today and many would say that you ought to do so. These were serious offences which involve an element of importation.”
He added: “I think there are good reasons in each of your cases that with the appropriate help you are now in a position whereby you have learned your lesson and are unlikely to commit this sort of offence again.”

Both women admitted attempting to possess a Class C drug with intent to supply, two counts of possession of a Class B drug with intent, and possession of a Class C drug with intent to supply.

MEP calls for Europe-wide action on legal highs

North East Euro MP Jude Kirton-Darling, pictured, is calling for a Europe-wide strategy to combat legal highs. At a visit to North East charity Changing Lives, Ms Kirton-Darling heard about the impact legal highs are having on young people’s lives in the region.

She has asked the European Commission what it is doing to reduce availability and accessibility of the substances which are labelled “not for human consumption” in but which are often sold on the high street or over the internet.

In May, the Home Office announced new legislation to create a blanket ban on legal highs.

But Ms Kirton-Darling has called for the EU to do more to highlight the dangers.

She said: “Legal highs blight people’s lives but can be found on sale around the region despite the fact they have proven to be lethal.

“Talking to Changing Lives I saw first-hand the effect these drugs have and am pleased that the UK Government is looking to take action.

“However, I think this is something that we could tackle at a European level and have asked the Commission what could be done.”

Despite more than 500 legal highs being banned by the Government an average of two new psychoactive substances were identified in Europe each week last year.

The number of recorded UK deaths from their misuse has shot up from 10 in 2009 to 68 in 2012.