Jail for two who supplied MDMA to student

A man and a woman have been sentenced in connection to the death of 22-year-old university student Joana Burns.

Joana, who had been studying at Sheffield Hallam University, died in hospital after taking MDMA during a night out at the Tuesday Club, at Sheffield University student’s union last year.

Two people, involved in supplying the drugs to Joana, appeared in court today (Friday 12 October), to be sentenced for drugs offences.

On the evening of Tuesday 6 June last year, Joana and a group of her friends had arranged a night out to celebrate their final year being over. Collectively, some of them had decided to take MDMA, as Detective Constable Liz Kooper, who led the investigation, explains.

“In the days leading up to their night out, there had been some discussion around taking MDMA. Joana’s friend, Katherine Louise Lavin, had told the group she could get them some MDMA from someone she knew.

“Lavin subsequently bought the drugs, from Benjamin Williams, and her friends each paid her for it. Some of the group, including Joana, then took the drugs over the course of the night.”

In the early hours of the following morning, police received a call from the hospital to say that Joana had been taken ill. She was put on life-support but sadly passed away at 10pm later that evening.

DC Kooper continued: “Lavin, 22, was arrested later that day and MDMA and cannabis were found in her room.

“During the course of our enquiries we discovered that Lavin had bought the drugs from Benjamin Williams, 26, who handed himself in two days later.

“They were later changed and both appeared before Sheffield Crown Court today for sentencing in connection to Joana’s death.”

Lavin, of Kentmore Close, Stockport, had admitted to supplying MDMA to Joana at an earlier hearing, as well as the possession of cannabis. She was sentenced to six months.

Williams, of Doncaster Road, Rotherham, admitted to supplying MDMA to Lavin at an earlier hearing. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years.

DC Kooper added: “This has been an incredibly tragic case, which resulted in the death of a young woman who had her whole life ahead of her.

“The consequences of the supply and use of drugs can be catastrophic, as shown in this case. A family have lost their daughter, friend and sister and while today’s result may offer some justice for them, it can’t and won’t ever bring Joana back. My thoughts are with her family on what has been a difficult day for them.

“Joana’s friend, Lavin, also has to live with the consequences that she supplied the drugs that caused her death, as does Williams.

“I only hope that this case reminds people and serves as a stark warning about the danger and potentially lethal consequences taking drugs can have. You never know what you might be taking, or what a drug may contain. Please, don’t risk it.

“This case also shows that if you’re involved in supplying drugs, in any way, you will be prosecuted and held responsible for your actions, which can result in the loss of lives, which is sadly all too apparent in this case.”