Brother of Derbyshire teen who died after taking one pill calls for changes in the law

The brother of a teenager who died after taking a pill bought online has called for a change in the law to tackle the sale of such drugs.
Aidan Karpenko was a talented musician.Aidan Karpenko was a talented musician.
Aidan Karpenko was a talented musician.

Aidan Karpenko, 19, lost his life in June after a friend gave him a single Etizolam tablet he had bought on the internet.

Etizolam – which was identified as a so-called ‘legal high’ in 2011 – is used as a medicine in Japan and India to treat anxiety, insomnia and panic attacks. The drug is not licensed as a medicine in the UK – although it is not classed as an illegal substance.

An inquest on Monday heard how Aidan, of Chesterfield Road, Holmewood, took the pill because he was “feeling anxious”.

Aidan’s brother, Calvin, said: “There needs to be accountability under the law for the supply of these substances in order to protect the public and prevent more avoidable deaths.

“The suppliers of these drugs are unqualified and unable to know the medical implications of taking them and your safety is the least of their worries. Just because it is legal, it does not mean it is safe.

“We would seriously appeal to people thinking about using drugs to not do so. As Aidan’s death shows, it can only take one pill.”

Mr Karpenko added: “We are all still reeling from the shock that Aidan has gone.

“Aidan was a loving young man who helped a lot of people during his short lifetime and there are many people who will miss him.”

He also expressed his “deepest gratitude and thanks” to everyone who has offered support during “a terrible period of time for our family”.

A former Chesterfield College student, Aidan was a talented songwriter and guitarist who would often entertain his classmates with his music.

The former bartender at Frankie and Benny’s was pronounced dead at 7.10am on Wednesday, June 25. Post-mortem tests revealed he died of cardiorespiratory depression due to Etizolam toxicity.

Coroner James Newman recorded a verdict of accidental death.

So just how easy is it to buy ‘legal highs’ online? Michael Broomhead investigates...

You only have to type a few key words into Google to realise there are thousands of distributors – many in the UK – selling these dangerous substances.

Within a matter of minutes, I’d ordered ten Etizolam pills for just £4.50.

All I had to do was enter my name, address and bank details, confirm I was over 18 and agree to the terms and conditions.

It was that shockingly simple to buy these hideous drugs, which were delivered to me just two days later.

Etizolam is one of many ‘legal highs’ flooding the drugs market in the UK.

Suppliers, who get round the law by selling the substances as incense, salts or plant food, say they’re doing nothing wrong.

Latest figures show 68 people died after taking ‘legal highs’ in 2012 and many people in Derbyshire – including Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins and our police – are doing all they can to raise awareness about the dangers and fight for a change in the law.

It may be some time before legislation changes – but it’s hoped that by highlighting the dangers of ‘legal highs’, other lives will be saved.