The mother of a teenage girl who died from a drug overdose has forgiven the dealer who sold her daughter ecstasy after writing to him.
Fifteen-year-old Martha Fernback bought the MDMA from Alex Williams in July 2013. But after taking the drug, she collapsed in a park in Oxford and was airlifted to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Williams, now aged 19 from Botley in Oxfordshire, admitted possessing a class A drug and was given three-month curfew and an 18-month youth rehabilitation order but he was spared a prison sentence.
Martha’s mother Anne-Marie Cockburn spent six months writing to Williams in 2014 and said the process helped her to find peace after her daughter’s death. The communication between the pair was set up by the Oxfordshire Youth Offending Team as part of the restorative justice process.
She told the Oxford Times: “I found peace with myself against many odds. I could see in his letters how much he had suffered as well and with that I found my peace and, in a way, I finally got justice for Martha.”
She even believes that in some way writing the letters could have saved her own life.
She said: “My family would have been to my funeral by now if I hadn’t gone through the process. I was suffering so much every day.”
Friend bought ecstasy for £40
Williams was 17 when he sold about 1g of ecstasy for £40 to one of Martha’s friends. The lethal batch of drugs had a purity of 91% and Martha took 0.5g of the powder before she died.
The average street purity of ecstasy is 58% and the strength of the dose taken by Martha caused a fatal cardiac arrest.
Her mother has since written a book about her experience called 5742 Days as well as a blog called blog called What Martha Did Next. Anne-Marie also works with other offenders to show them the consequences of their actions and has visited a number of prisons to talk to inmates.
Anne-Marie said she was pleased that Williams was moving on with his life and had turned his back on drug dealing.
She added: “I’m glad he’s doing good with his life now. It’s a kind of respect to Martha’s legacy. I didn’t want two young lives to be ruined and I know that he has learnt lessons.”
If you’re worried that your teenage son or daughter may be experimenting with drugs, it is important to talk to them calmly and give them information about the risks involved in taking illegal substances.
You may also want to consider using a drugs test to find out for sure so you can help them access the necessary support. AlphaBiolabs offers a home drug test kit which can tell you within five minutes whether there are drugs in their system.