Northern Ireland news

Man (35) jailed after 25-year-old woman dies of heroin overdose

A 35-year-old man was sentenced for supplying heroin following the death of a woman died in March 2015

THE heartbroken mother of a young woman who died of a heroin overdose has hit out at a lack of facilities for drug addicts.

The north Belfast woman, whose 25-year old daughter was found dead in the toilets of a KFC outlet at Belfast's Donegall Place, said she had not taken heroin in the months before her death and was looking forward to moving into a new house.

Speaking after Liam Dowds (35), from River Terrace in the Malone Lower area of the city, was sentenced for supplying heroin, the woman insisted her "funny, beautiful, smart and talented" daughter had taken an accidental overdose.

"She had been clean for some time and she was just starting to get things back on track."

She said her daughter had been working with the drugs outreach team based at Murray Street in Belfast and "the work they do is amazing."

But she said there was "no specialist facility" for addicts.

"Because of this, a number of concerned residents in north Belfast are coming together to help set up a cross-community forum. We hope to lobby Stormont to provide a facility that is sadly lacking. How many more people in this community need to die?"

Dowds will serve half his 32-month sentence in prison, with the remainder on supervised licence.

Belfast Crown Court heard that text messages on the young woman's phone linked her to Dowds, who had put her in touch with a man who sold her a wrap of heroin for £50.

Just hours after buying the drug on Saturday March 7 2015, she was found dead in the upstairs toilets of the fast food outlet by a member of staff.

When the cubicle was examined by police they found needles, silver foil, and medication prescribed by her doctor.

A post mortem concluded the young woman died from a heroin overdose.

Crown prosecutor Robin Steer said the woman had a "long history of addiction" to heroin and had been struggling with the Class A drug for seven years.

Dowds was arrested in January 2016 and later admitted a charge of being concerned in the supply of heroin.

Defence barrister Arthur Harvey said there as nothing to indicate Dowds was anything more than a "low level street dealer" and said he had led a "chaotic lifestyle because of his own misuse of substances."

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