Latest on Sheffield Student’s MDMA Death


Following the tragic death of Sheffield Hallam University Joana Burns, a drug dealer and her supplier have been found guilty of supplying the drug that led to a death. Read on for the full story, and news on this development.



Joana Burns, 22, was celebrating finishing her Mathematics degree at Sheffield Hallam University, when she bought the Class A drug MDMA – better known as Ecstasy. She bought the drug from her supposed ‘friend’ Katherine Lavin, 21, for £7. She and friends attended Sheffield University’s Students Union to celebrate the end of University.


An inquest into her death found that she was with a group of friends who had all agreed to take the drug. The drug was supplied in powder form, before being turned into ‘bombs’ using cigarette papers. Joana took two ‘bombs’ – one before going to the club, and another in the early hours of the next morning. Yet she vomited the second ‘bomb’, and soon started having fits. She was rushed to hospital, though paramedics couldn’t save her and she was pronounced dead. The inquest attributed her death to ‘misadventure’.


The drug MDMA caused the death [stock photo]

MDMA is renowned for being unpredictable, and has been responsible to many deaths. Despite this, it is a popular party drug. Joana’s boyfriend Lewis Birch suggested there was widespread use of Ectasy at the University union. Backing up this belief, it has been revealed that South Yorkshire Police had been investigating the discovery of an overflowing drugs bin at the same venue just a week prior to Joana’s death.




Lavin of Stockport, pleaded guilty to selling Joana the drug. Meanwhile, Benjamin Williams, 25, of Sheffield, confessed to supplying Lavin with the drug. The pair will be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on October 12. Custodial terms could be handed out. Yet they are unlikely to be handed down, with lenient sentences becoming the norm – with the lack of deterrent surely fuelling widespread drug use at British Universities.



Joana’s mother has urged others not to take the drug, stating that it ‘isn’t worth the risk’. Joana had been an aspiring Maths teacher, with her mother hoping she will serve as an inspiration for other girls to take up Mathematics, as opposed to becoming a victim of illegal drugs.




Joana’s death came in such tragic circumstances. She had the whole of her life ahead of her, yet she chose to risk everything with a £7 pill. It really is tragic, and anyone taking these drugs run the risk of death. It simply isn’t worth it.





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