Burnley teen Declan Edwards found hanged after drugs binge, inquest hears

Declan Edwards

Declan Edwards

First published in News Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A BURNLEY teenager who sparked a major search was found hanged after a weekend drink and drugs binge, an inquest heard.

Declan Edwards, 16, had decided to have a ‘mad weekend’ with three other friends.

Between them they took 35 MDMA pills and ‘four to five’ grams of amphetamines and had decided not to sleep from Friday May 2 to Sunday May 4, Burnley Coroner's Court was told.

One of Declan’s friends described him as being ‘off his head’ after taking some of the MDMA, a form of ecstasy, on the Saturday night.

The Unity College pupil was last seen by friends Lewis Clarke, Jordan Kaye and Charlton Nowell in Towneley Park at around 2pm on the Sunday.

His body was found in ‘very, very secluded’ land near a den at Rowley Park by police search teams on the night of Thursday, May 8.

Declan's mum, Mandy Edwards, told Burnley Coroners’ Court that her son had ‘everything to live for’, but she didn’t know he had started taking recreational drugs.

“He was a very loving, very caring boy,” she said. “He was looking forward to his school prom.

“He had lots of friends and was perfectly happy with his life.

“I didn’t know two of the friends he was with. They had just decided to have a mad weekend. It was so out of character, it doesn’t make sense.”

The inquest heard Declan had first met up with his friends between 8pm and 9pm on Friday night, and they had gone to a house party in Manchester Road, where they had started drinking and taking drugs.

At around 9am on Saturday morning the group had gone into Burnley town centre, and from there they had spent several hours in the afternoon in Towneley Park.

Declan returned home briefly on Saturday afternoon to get changed and have something to eat, before the boys got back together in the early evening.

They went to a party in Holcombe Drive, and then later that evening they went to buy some more drugs, the inquest heard.

Declan and Lewis went into a house in Mosley Road and came out with another ‘10 to 15 tablets’.

Jordan told the inquest that Declan came out after spending 45 minutes in the house looking ‘red-eyed’, and Charlton said ‘he looked completely off his head’ when he came out of the house.

The group then brought some more alcohol from Kitchen’s Garage at around 1am and drank it on the benches outside the Park View pub, opposite Turf Moor, before going to a party in Worsthorne.

They then walked back to Burnley and again headed to Towneley Park on Sunday morning, the inquest heard.

Charlton said: “We were all tired. We were falling asleep on the benches.”

At around 2pm Declan said he was going home.

“He was still off his head but he appeared to have a bit more sense now, " said Charlton.

When he left he had Jordan’s jacket on, with his mobile phone inside. The inquest was told that when he got around 20 yards away from his three friends, Jordan shouted to Declan that he had still his jacket, at which point Declan ran off.

The group followed him for a short time but they couldn’t find him.

Lewis told the inquest: “We expected to see him on the other side of the bridge. We thought he was playing a joke, but there was no sign of him.”

The inquest was told that Declan had been ‘happy’ all weekend, and was ‘more talkative’ and ‘loved up’ after he had taken drugs.

In a statement to the court, another friend, Trafford Brotherton, said that Declan had told him he had started taking recreational drugs ‘a few months ago’.

Trafford said he saw Declan and his other friends at around 1am on Sunday and said he had ‘never seen him looking as bad’.

Det Sgt Charlie Haynes led the investigation into Declan’s disappearance and told the inquest there was ‘no evidence a third party had direct involvement where he was found’.

He said that it was ‘impossible’ for anybody to have put Declan into the position he was found.

Police started searching the area around Rowley Lake after a number of Declan’s friends and fellow pupils told them about a possible den in the area.

DS Haynes said: “When we spoke to a number of his friends there was reference to a den, however all the friends we spoke to didn't know where it was, but did say Declan had a den at Rowley.”

The three friends he was with over the weekend told the inquest they had never been to the den or the area around it.

Mrs Edwards said that Declan was afraid of the dark and she didn’t think he could have gone there on his own.

Consultant pathologist, Dr Walid Salman, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said there were ‘recreational level’ traces of amphetamine and MDMA inside Declan’s system.

East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor said he did not believe Declan had intended to take his own life.

He said: “People often come to inquests and hope questions will be answered, but sadly in a case such as this we are never really going to know why.”

In recording a narrative verdict he said: “Declan Edwards was found suspended from a tree in Rowley Woods. He had ingested a quantity of amphetamine and ecstasy.”

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