Fear over girl’s party death
by P. Kelso Tuesday December 28, 1999
Copyright: P. Kelso
A 15-year-old girl who died at a schoolfriend’s Christmas Day party was believed to be the youngest drugs victim in Scotland this year. The body of Kerry-Ann Kirk of Coatbridge, Strathclyde, lay undiscovered at the friend’s house for more than 12 hours. The friend’s parents said last night they had carefully monitored the party. Kerry-Ann’s mother, Marie Kirk, said yesterday: “I could not believe it when I was told she was dead. It has not sunk in yet. Kerry-Ann was mature. She got on great with the kids and she was a great help to me. “Kerry had nothing to do with drugs – she hated them. If there were drugs involved I would take it that someone put them in her drink or something like that. I do not think she would have taken drugs.”
Kerry-Ann arrived at the house of Sean Stack at about 7pm on Christmas Day. Sean’s father, Kevin Stack, who was supervising the party, said he thought Kerry-Ann had left when the party broke up around midnight. “It was about 1pm the next day that we found her in the bedroom. Someone had thrown a cover over her and she must have been there all night.” Mr Stack said he had seen no evidence of drugs at the party. “We were keeping an eye on things and didn’t see any drugs or anything like that.” His wife, Sandra, said: “Our hearts go out to the family. More than that we do not know what to say, but I am really sorry about what has happened.”
A post mortem will determine the cause of death. Mrs Kirk, 39, said her family was distraught. Her older children, Gary, 17, and Cheryl, 12, were shocked by the tragedy but Jamie, three, and Marie-Louise, three months, were too young to understand. “Kerry-Ann was not a drinker. She was very popular and she had so many friends. People liked her because she was genuine. She was so pretty and always good company. I do not know what I will do without her,” she said. Mrs Kirk said Kerry-Ann had been upset at the death of her father, Gerard, in March this year. The couple were divorced.
Donald Dewar, Scotland’s first minister, said: “This is tragic and alarming news. This is why we are putting £10m into the drug enforcement agency and appointing 2,300 more police officers in the fight against drugs.” Strathclyde police are investigating six other drugs-related deaths since Christmas Eve, but a spokesman for the force said there was no connection between them. “All of these deaths, apart from Kerry-Ann’s, are heroin-related, but this is not down to a bad batch of heroin – it is just this is traditionally a bad time for drug deaths.” There have been 146 drug-related deaths in Strathclyde this year, a 46% increase on 1998. John Orr, chief constable of Strathclyde, said the 146 deaths came despite outstanding drugs seizures throughout the region.
“The force is extremely sensitive to the fact that every death of this nature leaves behind close family and friends devastated by the tragedy,” he said. “Society, as a priority, needs to utilise every means at its disposal to reduce and hopefully eradicate drugs deaths. “This is a multifaceted and complex problem that requires robust and coordinated efforts by all agencies.”