Father tells how solvent abuse killed daughter

Bethany Adcock

Bethany Adcock

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A teenager who died sniffing aerosol fumes was one of half a dozen young girls at her school experimenting with the deadly craze, an inquest heard.

Bethany Adcock, aged 14, collapsed in her bedroom after inhaling fumes from a deodorant can in front of a friend.

The hearing was told Bethany’s classmate warned her it could kill her but she claimed she knew other girls who did it regularly.

She had been shown by another teenager how to inhale to get high and her friend said she had seen Bethany sniff from an aerosol can in her bedroom once before.

PC Mark Wilcock, who investigated Bethany’s death, said sniffing aerosol gas was a craze being tried by pupils at Meadowhead School, Sheffield.

“The common denominator is it had spread around a group at school,” he said. “It is apparent this was not the first time Bethany had done it.

“It seems to have been something done in the fairly recent past, but it was not her first time. She had done it at least twice before.

“She told her friend another girl had shown her how to do it roughly a month before the night in question.”

The girl who introduced Bethany to solvent abuse had herself been ‘caught red-handed’ by her own mother and had stopped, the Sheffield inquest was told.

The woman then told the parents of another girl, who was also inhaling fumes, and she too stopped. But Bethany’s family was not aware she was involved.

PC Wilcock said on the night she died Bethany, of Greenhill, Sheffield, inhaled for around 25 minutes before collapsing on her bed and rolling to the floor.

Her horrified friend screamed for help, and Bethany’s distraught dad Craig gave emergency first aid.

She was rushed by ambulance to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, but was pronounced dead just over an hour after the alarm was raised.

In the wake of the tragedy, the names of all children involved had been passed to their headteacher and social services.

“We put measures in place to ensure appropriate education was provided,” PC Wilcock said.

”We spoke to the headteacher and to a lady from social services and all the names we were aware of were provided to them. I know the school sent out a letter in the immediate aftermath.”

A post-mortem examination failed to find any reason for Bethany’s death other than traces in her blood of a chemical used in aerosol sprays.

Pathologist Mudher Al-Adnani said solvent abuse can affect heart rhythms. He said the effect was “completely unpredictable”, the same person could inhale one day without any effect, but do the same thing the next day and die.

Craig Adcock, who broke down in tears during the hearing, said: “It has destroyed me. No parent should have to go through this.”

Reliving his battle to revive his daughter as she lay slumped on her bedroom floor, he said: “Bethany’s friend called down to us, a harrowing call, and her words still haunt me to this day.

”She said, ‘Come upstairs quick, something really bad has happened to Beth’.

“In pure fear I mounted the stairs three at a time and I found Bethany’s face ashen. Her eyes were as far as they could go in the back of her head. I knew we were in trouble, she was so limp.”

Mr Adcock gave his daughter the kiss of life and did chest compressions while he and wife Michelle waited desperately for paramedics to arrive, and take her to hospital by ambulance.

”I did everything possible to get some breath into her and to get a heartbeat,” he said.

He urged parents to lock up everyday household aerosol sprays away from their children.

”Since that fatal day I have been disappointed with society in its perception of solvent abuse - most people my age believe solvents are glues and things like that,” he said.

“I have spoken to dozens of parents and kids, and some of Bethany’s friends, and they did not have a clue a household spray can kill you like that. You should keep them under lock and key with your bleach.”

Sheffield’s assistant deputy coroner Julian Fox recorded a verdict of death by misadventure over the incident, which happened in November 2011.

He said: “Bethany had acquired a practice of sniffing aerosols. She had acquired that practice from friends.

“She did it deliberately that night, she sniffed to inhale - but she certainly did not intend the sadly fatal consequences.

“This is a very tragic case indeed. Bethany had a great life ahead of her. Can I stress the unpredictability of this practice.”

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