Social Workers’ Final Visit To Drug Death Girl

A 16-YEAR-OLD girl who lay dying of a heroin overdose while her mother and elder sister allegedly watched TV was visited by a social worker hours before she died.

Swansea Crown Court has heard Carly Townsend died alone in bed at her terraced home in Pwll, Llanelli, last May.

Detective Sergeant Sharon Griffiths, one of the first at the scene, said yesterday: “She appeared to be resting quite peacefully, almost in a foetal position, curled up on her left side.”

Carly’s mother Andrea Townsend, 45, and her sister Gemma Evans, 25, who lived with her at Bassett Terrace in Pwll, are denying manslaughter through gross negligence.

Both experienced drug users, they put her in the recovery position in bed and went to watch Emmerdale rather than call an ambulance, Paul Thomas QC, prosecuting, has claimed.

Carly had been taking heroin regularly since she was 14, but because she had not used the drug for three months while in a youth detention centre her tolerance to it had lowered considerably.

The prosecution case is that Evans and Townsend failed in their duty of care to the teenager and did not call in the emergency services either to avoid trouble for Carly or for themselves.

Yesterday, Carmarthenshire County Council youth social worker Louisa Marks-Jones told the court how she spent 45 minutes with Carly on the afternoon of May 2 last year, the day before the 16-year-old was found dead by her mother.

The previous month, Carly had been released early from a six-month sentence imposed for a drug-related offence at the Hillside Secure Unit in Neath. She was subjected to a nighttime curfew by an electronic tag and one of the conditions of her release was that she lived with her mother.

Mrs Marks-Jones said of the visit: “Carly was sitting on the sofa in her pyjamas. I was surprised she was still in her pyjamas but she said she’d been up all night worrying about her brother who had been in a fight at a club.

“She was tired and looking pale but I did not have any evidence she had taken any drugs.

“She told me her focus was on going to college and she had a keen interest in becoming a youth worker and helping young people because she had been through a lot herself.”

Police and paramedics were called to her home around 9am on May 3, after Andrea Townsend had found her daughter dead in a single bed beside her own double bed.

Mr Thomas claims Townsend and Evans both knew Carly had taken heroin and was going in and out of consciousness but after watching TV soaps failed to check on her before going to bed themselves.

Det Sgt Griffiths told the jury yesterday Carly’s mother and sister were extremely distressed when she got there.

She said: “They were crying, hugging each other and consoling each other on the sofa.

“Within a short time Gemma Evans said Carly had been supplied with heroin by a male known as Andrew Taylor.

“Taylor is well known to me for both using and supplying drugs like heroin.”

Mr Thomas asked the detective: “Would it surprise you if he’d been involved in supplying someone as young as Carly?”

She replied: “No.”

While Det Sgt Griffiths was examining Carly’s body she was alerted by Gemma Evans who informed her she had received texts from Taylor offering more heroin, or “pouches” as he referred to them, for sale.

The officer told the jury efforts to track down Taylor were successful and he eventually got a three-year jail term for supplying drugs.

Earlier, the court heard from Diana Comfort, a unit leader at the Hillside Secure Unit who confirmed Carly’s mother and sister had visited the teenager while she was there.

Mrs Comfort said: “Family support was good.”

She said Carly, who had been the subject of a council care order when she was just seven, was released halfway through a six-month sentence because of her positive attitude towards giving up drugs and “her old lifestyle”.

The case continues.