Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Ellie Rowe ketamine death: Drugs sentencing 'not working'

Ellie Rowe Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Ellie Rowe died after taking ketamine at Winchester's Boomtown Fair in 2013

The father of an 18-year-old woman who died after taking the drug ketamine has said the current sentencing of drug dealers "isn't working".

Ellie Rowe, from Glastonbury, Somerset, died after taking the drug at Winchester's Boomtown Fair in 2013.

Robert Boulton admitted being involved in supplying the drug but was not directly involved in the deal itself.

Bradley Rowe called for a debate on sentencing. The Ministry of Justice said "tough options" were available.

Image caption Ellie Rowe's father Bradley and her sister, Iona, want the dangers of ketamine to be more widely known

Mr Rowe said slightly harsher sentences were in order but added: "I'm not sure that prison is the right place."

He said the debate also needed to look at the legislation surrounding so-called legal highs.

"Plainly, the situation at the moment isn't working," he said.

'Happy and vibrant'

Boulton, 23, of Goodymoor Avenue, Wells, Somerset, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of ketamine. A charge that he directly supplied the drug was dismissed.

He was given an 18-week suspended sentence and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work on 3 February.

Since Miss Rowe's death, ketamine has been upgraded from a Class C to a Class B banned substance.

Dealers now face up to 14 years in prison.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said drug dealers were "a blight on society".

"That's why there are tough sentencing options available to the courts to bring drug dealers to justice, including a life sentence for supply of Class A drugs and up to 14 years imprisonment for supply of Class B and C drugs.

"Our approach on drugs remains clear; we must prevent drug abuse in our communities, help dependent individuals through treatment and wider recovery support, while ensuring law enforcement protects society by stopping the supply and tackling the organised crime that is associated with the drugs trade."

Miss Rowe's sister, Iona, who described Ellie as "a happy, vibrant girl", said the family also wanted the dangers of taking ketamine to be more widely known.

"You can think you're being sensible but there's no such thing," she said.

She added it had been the combination of taking a very small amount of ketamine with three cans of lager that had led to her death.

Mr Rowe warned anyone thinking of taking drugs not to do it.

"You could cause an upset which destroys a family," he said.

Correction 16 February 2015: This article has been amended to clarify the charges brought against Robert Boulton.

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