‘I hope it’s a wake-up call’

Gareth Balmbra with daughter Laceyjane Mellon-Balmbra
Gareth Balmbra with daughter Laceyjane Mellon-Balmbra

A mum hopes her son’s death from drugs is a wake-up call for the man convicted of supplying him with ecstasy.

Lynette Balmbra’s son Gareth, 30, died from an overdose of the drug after taking it in its chemical form, MDMA, last December, at a flat in Alnwick.

On Monday his friend, John Angus, 31, from Upper Barresdale, was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of unpaid work, for supplying the drug to Gareth.

Lynette hopes the sentence sends out a harsh message to anyone who takes drugs.

“If John had not brought that drug up, Gareth would still be here,” she said.

“He went into that flat alive and came out dead.

“I really hope this is a wake-up call for anybody in Alnwick.

“To lose a son is totally devastating. I have got to see his little lass, Lacey-jane, every day, asking where her daddy is and try to explain it.

“It is so hard to comes to terms with.

“I was gutted to hear the sentence John was given, I thought it would be more severe. It seems like everybody else can now just go back to their jobs and get on with it but all we have is a visit to a cemetery.”

Recorder Nicholas Lumley, sitting at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, heard that Angus had ‘shared’ the drug, which had been ‘left over from the previous weekend’ with Gareth on December 7 before he died.

The court was also told that Angus was a regular weekend drug-taker, often in the company of Mr Balmbra.

Angus, a crane driver in London, was subjected to regular drugs testing, but was ‘tipped-off’ when these were due to happen to make sure he wasn’t caught. Angus also wrote a letter to the court expressing his remorse for what had happened and explaining how he had been affected by Gareth’s death.

Mr Lumley said: “When you didn’t receive a warning about drugs testing at work your weekends were filled with drink and drugs.”

He added: “The effect this event has had on you has been profound and I sincerely hope that you will learn from this.

“This is a tragedy.”