Northern Ireland news

Co Armagh student Jeni Larmour died due to ‘misadventure' after taking katamine

Jeni Larmour (18) from Newtownhamilton was a deputy head girl at The Royal School Armagh
Tom Wilkinson, PA

A Co Armagh student died on her first night at university in England after taking ketamine given to her “by another”, a coroner has ruled.

Jeni Larmour (18) from Newtonhamilton, died hours after arriving at Newcastle University in October 2020.

The former deputy head girl consumed a lethal combination of alcohol and ketamine, a tranquilliser she sniffed with new flatmate Kavir Kalliecharan, Newcastle Coroner’s Court was told.

On the second day of the inquest, coroner Karen Dilks concluded Ms Larmour’s death was due to misadventure, defining that as unintentional acts and events.

Having heard from Mr Kalliecharan, other student witnesses, a Home Office pathologist and police, Mrs Dilks gave her view of the circumstances of the talented teenager’s death “on the balance of probabilities”.

She said Ms Larmour had arrived in Newcastle that day and drank alcohol with her new flat mates between 5-7pm.

Mrs Dilks said: “Later that evening, 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.”

Mr Kalliecharan (20) from Leeds, was not charged with supplying the ketamine and told police it was Ms Larmour’s.

Specialist police officers using sniffer dogs searched the flat in Park View halls and found ketamine, cannabis and MDMA in Mr Kalliecharan’s room but he insisted the ketamine was not his.

No other drugs were found in student rooms in the flat, including Ms Larmour’s, the inquest heard.

Ms Larmour used her mobile phone to film a Snapchat video showing her in Mr Kalliecharan’s bedroom with white powder on a table, the inquest heard.

It was not played in open court but was seen by witnesses.

Andrew Metcalfe, then an acting detective sergeant with Northumbria Police, said the video revealed no evidence of Ms Larmour or Mr Kalliecharan coercing or pressuring the other to take drugs.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Mr Kalliecharan said he was left sick by the drug and vomited for hours before falling asleep, before waking to find Ms Larmour lying lifeless and face down on his bedroom floor at about 5am.

Mr Kalliecharan had told Ms Larmour before they took the drugs: “This is how we do it in England.”

He told the coroner he was referring to the English university experience and had never taken ketamine before.

Immediately after Ms Larmour’s death, Mr Kalliecharan told flatmates he felt it was his “fault”, explaining at the inquest he felt “guilt” not in a criminal sense but through “moral responsibility”.

Lucy Backhurst, the university’s academic registrar and director of student services, addressed Ms Larmour’s parents David and Sandra at the start of her evidence.

She said: “Jeni was just the sort of bright, able student we want studying with us at Newcastle University.”

Ms Backhurst said her chosen course, urban planning and architecture, was hard to get on to and “not for the faint-hearted”.

She said the university had a compulsory online induction programme with information about drink and drugs.

But the messaging was not easy, she admitted, and after Ms Larmour’s death there was a backlash when the vice-chancellor emailed students a “stark” warning about the risks of drink and drugs.

Ms Backhurst said: “We got an awful lot of kickback from students (saying), ‘Who do you think you are, telling us what to do’?”

She added: “It’s a balance.

“Students need to be aware of the risks, dangers and signs and we have done an awful lot before 2020 and subsequently to try to raise awareness.”

Mrs Dilks urged the university to look again at its induction course on drink and drugs, given that none of the flatmates who gave evidence at the inquest could recall any information from it.

The coroner said the university’s work on drink and drugs advice was continually evolving and it was working well with other organisations on its programme.