Gateshead drug dealer jailed following multiple drug related student deaths in Newcastle

This comes after three students died from drug related causes in October 2020


A man from Gateshead has been jailed after being caught with drugs worth up to £86,000.

James Newark, 21, admitted to possessing high-purity cocaine, almost a kilo of MDMA and ketamine with intent to supply, Chronicle Live reports.

He was caught during a police operation into the supply of drugs following the deaths of three students in Newcastle in October 2020.

Jeni Larmour, a first year student at Newcastle University, died on October 3rd 2020 from the effects of alcohol and ketamine. She was found dead in student accommodation only hours after arriving in Newcastle from Newtonhamilton, County Armagh and was enrolled to study urban planning and architecture. She was found not to have bought the drugs herself.

Newark was not directly linked to the deaths, although information led police to his home at the time, in Pelaw. He has been jailed for six years and eight months and had no previous convictions.

Judge Amanda Rippon, of Newcastle Crown Court, said: “You were arrested as part of an investigation into the supply of drugs in Newcastle, launched following the deaths of three university students. You were not responsible or linked to those deaths but that’s why the investigation was launched.”

In Newark’s home, police found 234g of cocaine, some of which was 92 per cent pure and worth between £17,800 and £35,600, 944g of MDMA, worth between £39,340 and £49,700, and 85g of ketamine worth between £940 and £1,140.

Dr Chris Wood, prosecuting, told the court: “With two universities in the city there’s a large student population. Drug use in that population came to the forefront following the deaths of three students in October 2020, each death being drug-related.

“The investigation caused officers to attend the defendant’s home in Pelaw, where he was the sole tenant. On police arriving and identifying themselves he tried to prevent officers from entering the property by trying to slam the door shut.

“Officers stopped him from being able to close the door and forced entry and the defendant ran in the living room and jumped over the sofa towards a table that contained packets of tablets and white powder. The table resembled a drug preparation station.

“Multiple bags were already made up and ready for distribution. Items seized included multiple self-seal bags found throughout the property, two scales, mobile phones a cutting agent and £55,000 in cash.”

Rachel Hedworth, defending, said that James had debts as a result of taking large amounts of drugs and was paying off drug debts and feeding his addiction. She said: “He is utterly remorseful. He has two hard-working parents, his mother was a district nurse and his father is a baker.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably) on 0800 58 58 58. You can visit the Frank website or call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600. 

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