Jeni Larmour: Coroner accepts Armagh student was given ketamine ‘by another’ before she died

Kavir Kalliecharan (20) from Leeds, was not charged with supplying the ketamine and told police and the inquest it was Jeni’s

Jeni Larmour

Brett CampbellBelfast Telegraph

A coroner has accepted that there is no evidence to believe that Co Armagh student Jeni Larmour (18) was “pressured of coerced” into taking a lethal mix of alcohol and ketamine in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

However, senior coroner Mrs Karen Dilks found that the high-flying student who died on her first night at university was given the controlled drug "by another”.

"While her judgement was impaired due to alcohol, Jeni took a quantity of ketamine provided for her by another, the combined effects of which led to her death."

Kavir Kalliecharan (20) from Leeds, was not charged with supplying the ketamine and told police and the inquest it was Jeni’s.

The findings were delivered at Newcastle Coroners Court this afternoon in short form.

“The inquest is not a trial and does not attribute fault or blame,” Mrs Dilks said.

She rejected a request by the Larmour family’s representative to provide a narrative finding explaining that her role is to determine who, when, where and how a person died.

It was against that background Mrs Dilks said she was satisfied evidence from a forensic pathologist, Jeni’s roommates and officers from Northumbria Police answered the crucial questions.

It came after a policeman who investigated the death told the inquest there was no evidence Jeni was “pressured or coerced” into taking any drugs.

PC Andrew Peter Metcalfe was acting detective sergeant on the morning of October 3, 2020 when Jeni was found lying face down on her roommate Kavir Kalliecharan’s floor in halls at Newcastle University.

He carried out an initial cursory search of the Park View premises before specialist officers with trained sniffer dogs arrived.

“We located a small amount of drugs paraphernalia,” the witness told Newcastle Coroner's Court.

It included a wash bag located in Mr Kalliecharan’s drawer in his small dorm and a black flask containing “a small quantity of three types of drugs” including two pre-rolled joints.

PC Metcalfe said “scales and sealed bags as well as a cannabis grinder” were also recovered which he described as “consistent with the use of smoking cannabis”.

He said self-sealed bags contained a brown chemical rock and white powder which had been used.

The witness recalled how Mr Kalliecharan was arrested at the scene while other occupants of the eight-bedroom flat were taken to a nearby police station to provide witness statements.

PC Metcalfe described all their evidence as consistent with that provided to the coroner — including Mr Kalliecharan’s claim that Jeni came to his room with ketamine on the evening of October 2.

PC Metcalfe confirmed a Snapchat video shows both the deceased and Mr Kalliecharan standing beside a table with three lines of white powder lined out.

“It shows a hand which appears to be Mr Kallicharan’s moving the proximity closer to him for a tighter grip.”

When asked if it showed Jeni having contact with the drug, he replied: “I don’t believe so.”

“I would say the lines of powder were already drawn up when the video starts.”

The officer confirmed that both students were “intoxicated” when the footage was recorded, and he revealed what he believes can be heard in the footage after Jeni says: “F*** that.”

“That she’s not going to do it in two [lines], but one,” PC Metcalfe said.

“That is my understanding.”

There was a dispute yesterday over whether she may have said: “I’m not doing two lines, I’m only doing one.”

When asked by the coroner if there is any evidence that Jeni was “pressured or coerced” into taking ketamine, PC Metcalfe said: “No, none.”

However, he agreed there is no evidence of Jeni cutting lines or interacting with the drugs in the Snapchat video, unlike Mr Kalliecharan.

It emerged during the hearing that Mr Kalliecharan had changed his clothing by the time police arrived at the shared eight-bedroom accommodation.

“People may change their clothes to hide things, to hide forensic facts,” PC Metcalfe said.

But when probed by Mr Kalliecharan’s representative, the witness said there is no evidence of third-party involvement that would indicate a need to cover up evidence.

PC Metcalfe confirmed that a subsequent PolSA search turned up no further evidence.

Meanwhile, Lucy Backhurst, academic registrar and director of student services at Newcastle University, told the inquest students were required to read its drug policy prior to being granted accommodation and obtaining keys.

She told the coroner that the Vice Chancellor of the university sent a “stark” and “shocking” email within days of Jeni’s death warning against the use of alcohol and drugs.

But Ms Backhurst said it provoked quite a “kick-back” from students who perceived it as “finger wagging” and had a “who do you think you are” attitude.

She revealed changes have been made since 2020 with a range of bodies involved in increasing awareness of the risks of drugs as she stressed: “You can never do enough”.

Yesterday forensic pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper told the inquest that 197mg of alcohol was detected in Jeni’s blood — which is two-and-a-half times the drink driving limit (80mg) — in addition to 1.3mg of ketamine which he said indicated “a significant amount” had been taken.

He said the architecture student was confirmed dead at 5.59am and that paramedics made no attempt to resuscitate the teenager as “fixed discolouration” indicated she had been dead for a number of hours.

The expert also told the coroner there were no suspicious injuries anywhere on Jeni’s body.

The coroner said she was unable to identify any additional steps Newcastle University could have taken but urged staff to “consider” evidence from students who claimed they had no knowledge of critical information.

“The university should consider alternative methods,” Mrs Dilks added.

The coroner then thanked Jeni’s parents who were in the court room for assisting the inquest as she offered her “very sincere condolences” in what she described as “tragic circumstances”.

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