Student, 22, dies after taking ‘MDMA bomb’ having ‘final university blowout’

A 22-year-old maths student died after taking an ‘MDMA bomb’ during a final university blowout with her pals, a coroner’s court has heard.

Joana Burns was celebrating finishing the last year of her degree when she became unwell and started fitting after taking £7 worth of ecstasy.

She was taken to hospital but tragically passed away.

Now, following an inquest into her death, her mum has issued a heartbreaking warning, saying taking the drug is "not worth the risk".

Joana was celebrating the end of her time at Sheffield Hallam University in South Yorkshire when she died, Sheffield Coroner’s Court was told.

She had been with a group of friends who all agreed to take the drug, which one of the pals bought in the form of a powder, the coroner heard.

They each then made it into "bombs", it was said.

Joana’s boyfriend, Lewis Birch, told the hearing that she took the ecstasy willingly and he thought it was probably the third time she had done it.

Mr Birch said they were with a group who decided to go to the Tuesday Club at Sheffield University students’ union – an event he said was known for ecstasy use.

He said Joana took one "bomb" before she went into the union building on June 6 last year.

The court heard she took another in the early hours of the morning.

However, witnesses said the young woman vomited that one straight back up before she started fitting and was taken to hospital.

She died from drug toxicity, pathologist Kim Suvarna told the court.

Mr Birch said he paid £14 for two quarters of ecstasy, which he said was cheaper than he had paid before. He told the coroner everyone else who took the drug in the group was unharmed.

Mr Birch, who said he had been in a relationship with Joana for three years and had been a biomedical science student, said the group had decided to go out that night as a last celebration of their time at university.

Detective Constable Elizabeth Cooper described it as a "final fling".

Dr Suvarna said the MDMA probably reacted with enzymes in Joana’s body to cause it to overheat.

He said people up and down the country take the drug without much thought, but added: "There’s no such thing as a safe drug, particularly with this kind of psychoactive substance.

"If you are susceptible, they will kill you."

He told the coroner: "The young tend to believe they can do things they wish because they are young and immortal.

"Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply."

Assistant coroner Abigail Combes recorded a verdict of misadventure.

Speaking outside court, Joana’s mum Mosca Burns, from Alfreton, Derbyshire, said: "I would prefer it if nobody took MDMA again because I don’t really think you can assess the risk.

"It’s different every time you take it. It can have a different affect on your body, it’s made in different ways, in different recipes, in different places, by different people, with different ethics.

"So, it’s not worth the risk."

Mrs Burns previously said she hoped her daughter, who wanted to be a maths teacher, would be remembered more as an inspiration for girls to take up maths rather than as a victim of illegal drugs.

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