Plea by overdose victim’s mum as drug supplier jailed

The woman was found dead at a fast food outlet in Donegall Place in Belfast city centre
The woman was found dead at a fast food outlet in Donegall Place in Belfast city centre

The mother of a young woman who died of an accidental heroin overdose has hit out at the lack of facilities for people like her daughter who seek help for drug addiction.

The woman spoke out after the man who played a part in the supply of heroin to her 25-year-old daughter was jailed.

Her Honour Judge McCaffrey handed dealer Liam Dowds a sentence of two years and eight months for a charge of being concerned in the supply of heroin to another.

From River Terrace in the Malone Lower area, the 35-year old will serve half his 32-month sentence in prison, with the remainder spent on supervised licence.

Dowds was arrested following the death of the woman, who died in the toilets of the KFC restaurant on Belfast’s Donegall Place last March.

The woman’s family said that prior to the accidental overdose, she had been clean for months.

Text messages located on the young woman’s phone linked her to Dowds, who put her in touch with a man who sold her a wrap of heroin for £50.

Just hours after buying the drug, the north Belfast woman was found dead in the fast food outlet.

A post-mortem concluded the young woman died from a heroin overdose, which was further complicated by the presence of other substances.

Dowds was arrested in January following an examination of the woman’s phone. During interview, he gave a ‘no comment’ response.

Crown prosecutor Robin Steer said Dowds later admitted a charge of being concerned in the supply of heroin.

Defence barrister Arthur Harvey QC said there was nothing to indicate Dowds was anything more than a “low-level street dealer”, adding that he was a “conduit for which the supply was made”.

Judge McCaffrey said the young woman’s death should act as a reminder of the dangers of drugs.

Speaking afterwards, the mother of the dead woman demanded help for drug addicts here.

She said: “There is no facility for someone battling this kind of addiction and for those who want to stop. There’s nothing in the way of support, no specialist facility, either for addicts or their families.

“Concerned residents in north Belfast are coming together to help set up a cross-community forum. We hope to lobby Stormont to provide a facility that is sadly lacking. How many more people in this community need to die?”