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Mum of Croydon rave death teenager Daniel Spargo-Mabbs: 'Another child has died and he won't be the last unless we act'


THE mother of a schoolboy who died after taking ecstasy at an illegal rave has called for the police to do more to stop the events following the death of another teenager who collapsed at an unlicensed party.

Rio Andrew, 15, died in hospital on Monday, two days after falling ill while at an illegal rave held in an empty building in East Croydon.

Police believe drugs were involved and are investigating whether the talented athlete drank from a bottle containing the party drug ketamine.

Fiona Spargo-Mabbs, whose son Daniel, 16, died after taking drugs at a similar event in January, said this week: "Another child has died and he's not going to be the last. Something has to change."

A 19-year-old man, who is recovering after being taken to hospital during the event, has told police he too drank from a bottle shortly before he collapsed.

More than 3,000 people went to the illegal rave at the former Royal Mail delivery office in Cherry Orchard Road.

A large number of those who attended last Saturday's event – rife with drugs such as ketamine, MDMA and cocaine – were children, some as young as 14.

Rio is the second child in the last six months to die after attending such an event.

Archbishop Tenison's pupil Daniel Spargo-Mabbs collapsed after taking ecstasy at an illegal rave in west London on January 18 and died two days later in hospital.

Mrs Spargo-Mabbs has since set up a foundation in her son's name to warn others of the dangers of experimenting with drugs.

"What happened this week is absolutely awful, but I'm not surprised because these places are such incredibly dangerous environments," she told the Advertiser.

"Perhaps this is what it takes for something to change. With Dan dying and now Rio, it shows this is something that has to be stopped.

"Croydon is at the heart of highlighting how serious it is. A Croydon boy died at a rave and now a boy has died at a Croydon rave.

"We have to act. Unless there is a crackdown I can't see this problem doing anything but growing."

Following Saturday's rave – at which officers in riot gear were pelted with missiles when they tried to shut it down – the police have promised to get tough on those organising unlicensed parties.

However, Commander Simon Letchford said officers were limited in what they could do because of the secretive way in which the parties are organised and how difficult it can be to control crowds.

Mrs Spargo-Mabbs said: "I can understand why the police have problems with it, but I would like to think they are not insurmountable. Otherwise you have an environment which is completely lawless and that cannot be allowed to happen in a civilised society, especially not when children are involved.

"I'm not blaming the police. It's a very challenging situation, but I would hope there are wise and experienced heads in the force who can come up with some kind of solution.

"There has to be a way that police can stop this from happening, otherwise you have really dangerous situations, out of control, and more lives will be lost."

An emergency meeting of senior police and council staff on Monday was told that detectives believe Rio collapsed after drinking from a bottle of beer containing ketamine, a horse tranquiliser used as a party drug.

A post-mortem examination was held in Croydon on Wednesday, but results had not been released as the Advertiser went to press.

The 19-year-old who is recovering in hospital may also have consumed a "spiked" drink. Six other people were taken to hospital, including a 16-year-old who had his little finger ripped off while trying to break a fire alarm.

Speaking to the Advertiser on Wednesday, Commander Letchford defended the decision to allow the event to continue after fire extinguishers, furniture and masonry were thrown from the building at officers below. So far 14 people have been arrested for various offences.

He said: "It was a difficult operational decision. Clearly closing down an event with thousands of people would require a significant amount of police officers.

"We have never tolerated [illegal raves], but it's about whether closing them down is the best tactic at the time. Often it's not.

"What we are now going to do differently, and this will be a good test case, is to start to go after those people who organise these events, and where they have committed offences, bring them to justice."

While illegal raves have been around since the 1980s, they are attracting larger, and younger, crowds because they are being organised through social media.

Mrs Spargo-Mabbs, whose foundation spoke to pupils at Harris Academy Crystal Palace this week about Rio's death, believes the organisers – and the musical acts – need to be far more responsible.

"There's no regard for human life at these events," she said.

"I've been told of raves where there was no free water yet there was drugs openly being pushed everywhere.

"They seem primarily interested in making money. If 3,000 people turn up and you charge £15 a head then you've made nearly £50,000, with very little in the way of overheads.

"There are massive financial incentives for people organising these raves to carrying on doing them exactly as they are.

"But the adults who organise and perform at these things need to take responsibility and realise the danger they are putting children in."

Mum of Croydon rave death teenager Daniel Spargo-Mabbs: 'Another child has died and he won't be the last unless we act'

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