A devastated mother has claimed there is a big drugs problem in a north Northumberland town, believing her son took a lethal dose on the night of his death.
Gareth Balmbra, from Alnwick, died on Saturday, December 7, after being taken to Wansbeck General Hospital from an address in the town.
The 30-year-old was a doting father to two-year-old daughter Lacey-jane Mellon-Balmbra.
His shocked mum Lynette says the family believes Gareth took the drug MDMA – the chemical name for ecstasy – before he died.
“The post-mortem said that he died of a massive heart attack. As far as we know, Gareth took a drug in somebody’s flat,” said Lynette, 53.
“It is the suppliers in Alnwick that want stopping,” she added. “Gareth was there at the time and this has happened to him. But it could have happened to anybody.
“I think there is a big problem with it in the town.”
Gareth also leaves behind dad John, 55, and sister Jade, 20.
His death caused a huge outpouring of grief, with mourners leaving tributes and messages of condolence on social-networking sites such as Facebook.
Speaking from her home in Alnwick just before Christmas, Lynette said that there was a massive turnout at his funeral at St Paul’s Church, on Tuesday, December 17.
She has thanked everyone for their support, which has brought the family comfort during this tough time.
“I am going to miss him,” she said.
“I loved him to bits. He was my golden boy.
“He was a lovely lad. He liked to live life to the full and enjoyed an all-night party.
“He was a doting father to Lacey-jane.”
Gareth was a former pupil of Alnwick’s Duchess’s Community High School and had worked at A & J Scott Ltd, in Wooperton, as well as MKM Building Supplies.
He was a keen darts player and a Newcastle United fan.
On Christmas Day, his sister Jade posted a message on Facebook.
It read: “Miss you loads Gareth. I hope you are having a great day up there! Love from us all.”
Some of the touching tributes left on Facebook after his death described Gareth as a special guy, who was loved by many people and touched lots of hearts in loads of different ways.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, @sielegend79 described Gareth as a good friend who will be missed.
Chief inspector Aidan Sloan, of Northumbria Police, played down claims of a drug problem in Alnwick.
He said: “An inquest into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Balmbra will take place in due course.
“A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of supplying a controlled drug and is on bail while inquiries continue.
“I would like to reassure people that while Alnwick does not have a particular issue with drug supply, we take any concerns around illegal drug use and supply extremely seriously and take proactive enforcement action against those suspected of being involved in such activity.”
He added: “Anyone who does have concerns or who has information about drug use in the town is asked to contact police, anonymously if necessary, so action can be taken.”