Heartbroken mum of Sheffield student who died after taking drugs issues warning to others

Joana Burns
Joana Burns

The heartbroken mum of a Sheffield student who died after taking drugs on a night out warned others not to follow suit, saying: "It's not worth the risk".

Joana Burns was celebrating finishing her final year of a maths degree at Sheffield Hallam University when she died after taking £7 worth of MDMA, a form of ecstasy.

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Speaking after a verdict of misadventure was recorded after an inquest into the death held today, 22-year-old Joana's mum, Mosca Burns, from Alfreton, Derbyshire, said: "I would prefer it if nobody took MDMA again because I don't really think you can assess the risk.

"It's different every time you take it. It can have a different affect on your body, it's made in different ways, in different recipes, in different places, by different people, with different ethics.

"So, it's not worth the risk."

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Mrs Burns has previously said she hopes her daughter, who wanted to be a maths teacher, is remembered more as an inspiration for girls to take up maths rather than as a victim of illegal drugs.

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Today's inquest heard Joana was with a group of friends who all agreed to take the drug on a night out last June and that she was not a regular user, only having ever taken drugs twice before.

Joana's boyfriend, Lewis Birch, told the hearing she took the ecstasy willingly before she went to the Tuesday Club, a night at Sheffield University's students' union which he said was known for ecstasy use.

The court heard she took another bomb in the early hours of the morning, but witnesses said she vomited that one straight back up before she started fitting and was taken to hospital.

Mr Birch, who said he had been in a relationship with Miss Burns for three years and had been a biomedical science student in Sheffield, said the group had decided to go out that night as a last celebration of their time together at university.

Detective Constable Elizabeth Cooper described it as a 'final fling'.

Pathologist Kim Suvarna told the court Miss Burns died from drug toxicity.

He said the MDMA probably reacted with enzymes in her body, causing Joana to overheat.

Dr Suvarna said people up and down the country take the drug without much thought, but added: "There's no such thing as a safe drug, particularly with this kind of psychoactive substance.

"If you are susceptible, they will kill you."

He told the coroner, Abigail Combes: "The young tend to believe they can do things they wish because they are young and immortal. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply."