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  1. ITV Report

Mother hails use of new tougher drug sentencing powers following son's death

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The mother of a Kent teenager who died after taking the powerful drug fentanyl has applauded the first use of new tougher sentencing powers she campaigned for.

A gang caught selling the drug has been jailed for a total of 43 years.

Michelle Parry's son Robert died in 2016 after taking the drug, which experts believe is up to 50 times stronger than heroin.

Since his death she's been campaigning for a change in sentencing guidelines, allowing judges to jail dealers for longer.

The changes, dubbed Robert's law, came into force in June last year.

  • WATCH: Michelle Parry on the difference Robert's law has made

It means Robert made a difference to the world. Prior to June they were looking at three to 15 years. Now they're looking at six to 25, and for two of them to receive 16 and a half each, it's just, I don't know. I'm just numb from it all."

– Michelle Parry
Lee Childs, Mandy Christopher Lowther and Jake Levene (L-R) were convicted and sentenced at Leeds Crown Court Credit: West Yorkshire Police

Lee Childs, Mandy Christopher Lowther and Jake Levene were arrested as part of an operation by the National Crime Agency.

The gang made more than £160,000 selling a potent cocktail of drugs around the world via the dark web.

Credit: National Crime Agency

Police found millions of lethal doses at the crime ring's factory in Leeds.

They'd mixed fentanyl, said to be 100 times stronger than morphine, with carfentanyl, which is almost 10,000 times stronger.

Forensic scientists weren't able to give an accurate estimate of the amount of the compound they found, because it was too dangerous for them to handle.

It was so deadly that Lowther almost died after being exposed to it.

He fell into a coma and spent months in hospital, but returned to the drug operation after he was discharged.

  • WATCH: Drug expert on why police can struggle to tackle drug crime

Heroin, crack cocaine, crystal meth and now fentanyl; they're all class A drugs. People can finish up going to prison for life for trafficking in it. But the profit margins are so great there's always other people waiting in the wings and prepared to take the risk.

– Harry Shapiro, Director of Drugwise

The National Crime Agency are not linking Robert's death to this particular drug cartel.

Michelle says that although she's proud of Robert's law as a deterrent, she doesn't see it as a complete solution.

She hopes to visit schools to warn young people of the dangers of fentanyl.

Meanwhile the trio found guilty of producing and distributing this powerful substance are beginning their time behind bars.

Jake Levene and Mandy Lowther will each spend 16-and-a-half years in prison, while Lee Childs will serve 10-and-a-half years.