Angry response from drugs victim’s family as teenager goes free

Caitlin White who died after taking Ecstasy.
Caitlin White who died after taking Ecstasy.

There was an angry reaction from the family of a young girl who overdosed on ecstasy tablets after a 19-year-old woman charged following the death was given community service on Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

At a previous sitting of the court Laura Porter, Maevemacullen Road, Tandragee, admitted offering to supply a class A drug, MDMA (ecstasy) on May 19 last year and unlawful possession of the drug.

The judge heard that the MDMA tablets concerned in the ‘tragic death’ were coloured blue and yellow like Minions characters

A public prosecutor said this concerned the tragic death of 15-year-old Caitlin White who was found in an area in Corcrain which was known for drinking and drugs. She had overdosed on ecstasy.

The case was adjourned until yesterday (Wednesday, July 18) to obtain a pre-sentence report.

Yesterday’s court was told investigations led to Porter’s arrest and while it was accepted she had not offered the drugs directly, nor assisted in their consumption, she did have possession of one Minion.

The court heard following analysis of Porter’s phone, a message read: “If anyone wants to buy a Minion I have one only and I want rid of it.”

Defence counsel said: “This was a tragic set of circumstances which has impacted significantly on my client, but she accepts this does not compare to the suffering of the deceased’s family.”

He stated Porter has experienced severe psychological difficulties since the incident, has become very withdrawn and no longer socialised – comments to which one of Caitlin’s relatives audibly said: “Good.”

The defence said at the time Porter had become embroiled in a poor peer group, and started abusing alcohol, moving to cannabis then to harder drugs.

Describing the link to Caitlin’s death as “tenuous”, the defence added: “My client is a fragile, delicate girl. It is rare to have a young girl as a client who has no previous record and comes from a good family.“

District Judge, Mrs Bernie Kelly, expressed the court’s sympathy to Caitlin’s family for their loss.

She pointed out Porter had first appeared in court on May 30, pleaded guilty at once, affording full credit for her swift response.

Stressing no correlation between the defendant and the death of Caitlin, the judge said if that been the case, different charges would have applied.

Imposing a sentence of 120 hours community service, Judge Kelly told Porter: “I strongly advise you to learn from this unfortunate and tragic situation. Ensure you never involve yourself again. This was an event of utmost tragedy.”

But members of Caitlin’s family became agitated with a man shouting: “Seriously?”.

A woman broke down and said: “Is that it? I lost my baby. Is that all she got? There is no justice.”

Security staff escorted them from the courtroom, as they continued speaking out in anger.

Given the tension, Judge Kelly said Porter, who wept uncontrollably, should wait until Caitlin’s family had left, to which a relative responded: “That would be a brilliant idea actually” before storming out.

Judge Kelly ordered police to speak with this woman stating: “I think that was a threat.”

Later, a police officer who accompanied Caitlin’s family during the hearing told the court she had spoken to them and advised them on their conduct.

Judge Kelly said: “I accept this is difficult but this young lady (Porter) was never charged in any way with the death.”

The officer said she explained this to the family, but Judge Kelly replied: “They are clearly not getting it. The defendant cannot be held responsible for something she is not before the court for.”

Porter was required to be escorted by police from court after Caitlin’s family left the building.