Schoolgirl, 14, died in front of friend after sniffing aerosols from deodorant can for half an hour in deadly craze at her school
Bethany Adcock, 14, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, died in her bedroomSheffield United FC player had been taught how to sniff aerosols by friend
Father recalls 'harrowing call' from Bethany's friend when she collapsedSix girls were trying craze at Meadowhead School when death happened
11:09 GMT, 14 December 2012
Tragic: Bethany Adcock, 14, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, was one of six girls at Meadowhead School experimenting with the sniffing craze
A 14-year-old schoolgirl died after inhaling fumes from a deodorant can in front of a friend in her room as she tried to get high, an inquest heard.
Bethany Adcock, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire – one of six girls at Meadowhead School who were experimenting with the craze – inhaled for about 25 minutes before collapsing on her bed and rolling onto the floor, Sheffield Coroner’s Court was told on Wednesday.
Her friend warned her that it could be deadly, but Bethany – who played football for the Sheffield United Community Ladies FC under-14s side – claimed she knew other girls who did it regularly and had done it at least twice before.
She had been shown by another girl how to inhale to get high one month before she died in November 2011, with sniffing aerosol gas becoming a craze among pupils at her school.
PC Mark Wilcock, who investigated Bethany’s death, said: ‘The common denominator is it had spread around a group at school. It is apparent this was not the first time Bethany had done it.
‘It seems to have been something done in the fairly recent past, but it was not her first time. She had done it at least twice before. She told her friend another girl had shown her how to do it roughly a month before the night in question.’
The girl who introduced Bethany to solvent abuse had herself been ‘caught red-handed’ by her own mother and had stopped, the inquest was told.
The mother told the parents of another girl, who was also inhaling fumes, and she stopped too. But Bethany’s family was not aware she was involved.
PC Wilcock said on the night she died, Bethany began rolling to the floor. Her horrified friend screamed for help, and Bethany’s distraught father Craig gave emergency first aid.
Education: Meadowhead School is a 'satisfactory' specialist language college in Sheffield with 1,670 pupils
She was taken by ambulance to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, but was pronounced dead just over an hour after the alarm was raised.
In the wake of the tragedy, the names of all children involved had been passed to their headteacher and social services.
'Her friend said: “Come upstairs quick, something really bad has happened to Beth”. In pure fear I mounted the stairs three at a time and I found Bethany’s face ashen. Her eyes were as far as they could go in the back of her head. I knew we were in trouble, she was so limp'
‘We put measures in place to ensure appropriate education was provided,’ PC Wilcock said.
’We spoke to the headteacher and to a lady from social services and all the names we were aware of were provided to them. I know the school sent out a letter in the immediate aftermath.’
A post-mortem examination failed to find any reason for Bethany’s death other than traces in her blood of a chemical used in aerosol sprays.
Pathologist Mudher Al-Adnani said solvent abuse can affect heart rhythms.
He said the effect was ‘completely unpredictable’ – the same person could inhale one day without any effect, but do the same thing the next day and die.
Craig Adcock, breaking down in tears at his daughter’s inquest, said: ‘It has destroyed me. No parent should have to go through this.’
Inquest: Sheffield Coroner's Court (pictured) was told that her friend warned her that it could be deadly, but Bethany claimed she knew other girls who did it regularly and had done it at least twice before
Reliving his battle to revive his daughter as she lay slumped on her bedroom floor, he said: ‘Bethany’s friend called down to us, a harrowing call , and her words still haunt me to this day.
’She said: “Come upstairs quick, something really bad has happened to Beth”.
MEADOWHEAD SCHOOL IN PROFILE
Meadowhead School is a mixed specialist language
college in Sheffield with 1,670 pupils.
It was labelled 'satisfactory' in its last
Ofsted report earlier this year in March, which took place after Bethany's death in November 2011.
The report also said it had ‘good systems in place to ensure
the safety of students’.
The headteacher is Catherine James, who writes on the school's website: 'The school building opened in January 2007 and offers modern facilities with impressive technology.'
‘In pure fear I mounted the stairs three
at a time and I found Bethany’s face ashen. Her eyes were as far as
they could go in the back of her head. I knew we were in trouble, she
was so limp.’
Mr Adcock gave his daughter the kiss-of-life and did chest compressions while he and wife Michelle waited desperately for paramedics to arrive at their home and rush her to hospital by ambulance.
’I did everything possible to get some breath into her and to get a heartbeat,’ he said.
Mr Adcock urged parents to lock up everyday household aerosol sprays away from their children.
‘Since that fatal day I have been disappointed with society in its perception of solvent abuse – most people my age believe solvents are glues and things like that,’ he said.
'This is a very tragic case indeed. Bethany had a great life ahead of her'
Julian Fox, assistant deputy coroner
‘I have spoken to dozens of parents and
kids, and some of Bethany’s friends, and they did not have a clue a
household spray can kill you like that. You should keep them under lock
and key with your bleach.’
Assistant deputy coroner Julian Fox recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.
He said: ‘Bethany had acquired a practice of sniffing aerosols. She had acquired that practice from friends. She did it deliberately that night, she sniffed to inhale.
'But she certainly did not intend the sadly fatal consequences. This is a very tragic case indeed. Bethany had a great life ahead of her. I stress the unpredictability of this practice.’