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Coroner's warning after sniffing death.

Byline: Ross McCarthy

The Birmingham coroner has warned about the dangers of sniffing butane gas after a teenage girl collapsed and died at a house.

Attempts to revive 14-year-old Vanessa Golding failed after she sniffed the gas which had been bought for her by her friends.

The inquest yesterday was told that the owners of the shop where the gas was purchased were being prosecuted by Birmingham City Council.

Recording that Vanessa, of Marsh Lane, Erdington, died from inhaling from a cigarette lighter refill, the coroner Aidan Cotter said: 'People need to understand that if you choose to do that type of thing it can kill you.

'People who sniff gas ought to know what can happen at any time.

'The fact that you get away with it lots of times does not stop it happening the next.

'People who let their friends sniff gas ought to know that is what happens and people who sell gas to youngsters need to realise that is what can happen.

'It is not comparable to a kid having a cigarette. Each and every time a kid does this they can die or they can end up brain damaged.'

He said three empty refill lighter cans were also found at the house of one of Vanessa's friends where she was found by paramedics.

In statements, two of Vanessa's friends said they had gone to a store in Erdington after she had asked them to buy gas for her.

When they returned, Vanessa had sniffed the gas before running upstairs in the belief her mother was coming to the house.

They said she then collapsed in the corner of a bedroom.

Pathologist Dr Adrian Warfield said Vanessa died because her heart had stopped.

City council enforcement officer Michael Martin said summonses had been served on the owners of U Save General Stores in South Road, Erdington, alleging they had sold lighter refills to persons under the age of 18.

He said the maximum sentence for the offence was six months imprisonment and/or a pounds 5,000 fine. After the inquest, Vanessa's mother Susan Golding said: 'The girls in question who bought the gas were very little, ever so tiny. It would have been obvious to the shopkeepers that they were under age.

'I think children need to know that this is not something they can play around with and they must realise the consequences.'
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 13, 2002
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