Drug Death Lecturer Spared Jail

Brian Dodgeon given suspended sentence for possessing drugs

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Lecturer Brian Dodgeon, who admitted possessing Class A drugs after a Chiswick Community School student died from an overdose at his home, was given a suspended sentence today (December 2nd) at Isleworth Crown Court. Isobel Jones-Reilly (15) died last April after taking ecstasy at an unsupervised party at Brian Dodgeon's home in north Kensington.

Dodgeon (61) was given an eight month sentence suspended for two years, by Judge Andrew McDowall, who told him that the worst punishment he could have was one that would last for the rest of his conscious life, "the knowledge that the possession of these drugs and your failure to keep them secure from teenage experimentation, has resulted in a death."

Dodgeon had a stash of party drugs – ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and a psychedelic drug known as Foxy Methoxy – hidden in a wardrobe in his bedroom, but said he never thought the teenagers would find it. He pleaded guilty to four counts of possession in court last October.

About a week after the incident, Dodgeon attempted suicide by leaping from a bridge over the North Circular road in Walthamstow, east London. He required brain surgery after fracturing his skull and broke numerous bones, including a femur, an elbow and a heel.

The judge imposed a six-month curfew order requiring the lecturer to be at home between the hours of 9pm and 7am, told him to pay £150 towards the prosecution's costs and ordered the destruction of the drugs.

The judge also commented : "The failures of communication between parents and teenage children are very often the subject of humour. But the failures of knowledge and communication sometimes have terrible results, as happened here."

Dodgeon, a research fellow at the University of London's Institute of Education, and his partner, Angela Hadjipateras, went away for the night on 22 April, leaving their daughter, Beatrice, 14, alone at their home in Barlby Road, North Kensington, the court heard. Beatrice was a friend of Isobel Jones-Reilly.

They knew Beatrice had used Facebook to organise a party, which was attended by about 30 young people who drank cider, wine and spirits, and smoked marijuana. Beatrice told partygoers she had previously found a stash of cannabis in her father's drawer, and three of the teenagers went to an "out-of-bounds" bedroom in a bid to find some more.

They discovered a canister containing a selection of drugs in capsules, plastic containers and bags. Isobel, from Acton, took two ecstasy tablets.

The teenager suffered adverse effects from taking the drug but would not let her friends call an ambulance for fear of getting into trouble. She stopped breathing and her friends could not find a pulse. They finally dialled 999 and attempted to perform mouth-to-mouth and CPR.

Isobel was taken to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington but was pronounced dead at 6.30am on 23 April. Beatrice and two 14-year-old boys also needed hospital treatment after the party.

Dodgeon told police in interview that he was a recreational drug user and described himself as an "old hippie". The lecturer, a former social worker whose research subjects have included health inequalities and alcohol consumption patterns, said it had "never crossed his mind" that someone would find the drugs, which were valued by prosecutors at between £735 and £2,435.

December 2, 2011