A 23-year-old British-born Nigerian law student, Damilola Grace Olakanmi, has died after consuming suspected cannabis sweet in east London.
According to Evening Standard, the University of Hertfordshire business law undergraduate bought the “gummies” via a messaging app on her phone and they were delivered to her home.
Ms. Olakanmi and a 21-year-old friend immediately fell ill at the mid-terraced house in South Park Drive, Ilford at 11.30 pm on Tuesday, March 29 after eating the sweets.
Ms. Olakanmi was taken by air ambulance to Queen’s Hospital, Romford in critical condition. Her mother Wumi, 51, a churchgoer, kept a vigil by her bedside until she lost her fight for life on Saturday, April 2.
Doctors later discharged Ms. Olakanmi’s friend, a US student visiting the UK, from the hospital. Justice campaigner and relative, Richard Taylor, 75, consoled the student’s distraught mother on Sunday.
“Wumi has lost her only child – she has nothing now,” he told The Standard. “They had to hold her up because she broke down every time a friend came to the house to give support.
“It’s a tragic warning to all young people about how they live their lives. They should resist drugs. Damilola was a promising young woman who should be looking forward to her future and having children of her own. She was studying law.”
A relative, named only as Dunni, added the family was demanding answers.
“Damilola was a sweet, quiet girl – a bit of an introvert. Her mother looked up to her. She was very kind and loved looking after children and wanted to please everyone. The family will never come to terms with this. We need to know what happened. Her mother is not young anymore,” Dunni said.
“We don’t want Damilola’s memory to be just like that. You want her to be remembered as the girl who asked everyone, ‘Are you okay and do you want anything?’” she added.
A suspect, Leon Brown, 37, of South Norwood, was arrested in connection with the incident on Friday.
He was subsequently charged with possession with intent to supply Class B synthetic cannabinoid, being concerned in the supply of a synthetic cannabinoid, and possession with intent to supply a psychoactive substance.
Meanwhile, officers have issued a warning over the sweets and said a number has been recovered and is being tested.
The Met Police said the case may be linked to another incident in March where a woman was taken to hospital after eating a cannabis sweet in Tower Hamlets.
She has since been discharged but an inquiry is underway to establish whether they came from the same batch involved in Ms. Olakanmi’s death.
“I must warn the public against taking any illegal substances, including those packaged in the form of cannabis sweets,” Chief Superintendent Stuart Bell, of the Met’s East Area Basic Command Unit, said.
“Please do not buy or consume these products. They are illegal and, because of the child-friendly packaging, they can pose a risk of accidental consumption. The particular batch of sweets was contained in packaging featuring Trrlli Peachie O’s branding. It has not been confirmed at this stage where the sweets were manufactured,”
“Drug dealers harm communities and risk the safety of individuals. We will take positive action to target those engaged in this activity as well as those found in possession of these substances. Anyone with information about people selling illegal products such as these is asked to speak with local officers, call police on 101 or, to remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers.”
A special post-mortem examination will be arranged in due course, the Met said.