A Snapchat video, taken moments before a high-achieving student took a fatal dose of ketamine on her first night at university, showed she was not coerced into taking the drug, an inquest heard.
Jeni Larmour, from Newtonhamilton, Northern Ireland, died hours after arriving at Newcastle University in October 2020.
She took a lethal combination of alcohol and ketamine, a tranquilliser she sniffed with new flatmate Kavir Kalliecharan, Newcastle Coroner’s Court has heard.
An inquest into the death of the 18-year-old has concluded she died by misadventure.
Mr Kalliecharan, 20, from Leeds, was not charged with supplying the ketamine and he told police that it was Ms Larmour’s.
Specialist search officers using police dogs searched the flat in Park View halls and officers found ketamine, cannabis and MDMA in his room, but he claimed the ketamine was not his.
The inquest was told no other drugs were found in any of the student rooms in the flat, including none in Ms Larmour’s room.
Ms Larmour had filmed a Snapchat video on her mobile phone which was not shown in open court, but which witnesses have seen, showing her in Mr Kalliecharan’s bedroom, with a white powder on a table.
Andrew Metcalfe, then an acting Detective Sergeant with Northumbria Police, confirmed that the video showed there was no evidence of either Ms Larmour or Mr Kalliecharan coercing or pressuring the other to take drugs.
In evidence on Tuesday, Mr Kalliecharan claimed he was rendered sick by the drug and vomited for hours before falling asleep, and woke to found Ms Larmour lifeless, lying face down on his bedroom floor at around 5am.
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 onto and "not for the faint-hearted".
She said the university had a compulsory online induction programme with information about drink and drugs for new students.
But the messaging was not easy, she admitted, and following the tragedy of 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 kick-back 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."
The inquest heard that Mr Kalliecharan had told Ms Larmour before they took the drugs: "This is how we do it in England."
Immediately after her death, he told flatmates he felt it was his "fault", explaining at the inquest he felt "guilt" - not in a criminal sense, but "moral responsibility”.
Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar and director of student services at Newcastle University said: “Our thoughts are with Jeni’s family and friends at this time. Jeni was clearly an outstanding student with a bright future ahead of her and we are incredibly sad she never got the opportunity to start her academic journey with us.
"We work hard to raise awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol use with our students and have a range of services and resources to support those affected by their own use or that of someone they know.
"At the same time, we are working closely with our students and the Students’ Union to enhance the services and support we provide. Since Jeni’s death, we have further developed our harm reduction stance on student drug and alcohol use and have introduced additional educational material that we require students to view at the start of their studies.
"We continue to work with the police and our city partners to educate and support our students.
"Once again, on behalf of us all at Newcastle University, our thoughts are with Jeni’s family and friends.”
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