Devastated mums forced to identify daughters’ bodies hours after arriving at uni
Two heartbroken mums faced the harrowing ordeal of identifying their daughters’ bodies within hours of their arrival at university, inquests heard yesterday.
The tragic deaths of Stephanie Sillifant and Jeni Larmour, both 18, at Newcastle University sparked a warning from police over drugs.
Nathaniel Pavlovic, 21, a student at the city’s Northumbria University, also lost his life over the same weekend at the start of term.
Inquests into their deaths heard Jeni and Nathaniel had died after taking substances which were ‘yet to be identified’.
All three had been out drinking with friends shortly after arrival at their halls of residence to start their studies.
Stephanie, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, Notts, was said to suffer from “underlying health issues”, Newcastle senior coroner Karen Dilks said.
She arrived to start her studies just two days before her tragic death on Oct 4 at Park View student village. Investigations into the cause of deaths of all three students are ongoing.
“It is believed Stephanie was with others where she was living having consumed alcohol,” said Mrs Dilks. “It is also known that Stephanie did have underlying health conditions.”
She was identified by her mum Nicola Sillofant. In a moving online tribute, she wrote: “ Hi Sweetie, Just to let you know that I love you and miss you so much.
“I can’t imagine my life without you in it but I do believe that you were taken from us because you are needed elsewhere.
“I have no doubt that I will see you again, it just probably won’t be for a while. Go be the remarkable person I always knew you were going to be.”
She added: “I’m so very proud of you and I will always be in awe of everything you achieved. All my love now and forever, Mum.”
Fellow fresher Jeni, of Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh, died in the same halls of residence on Oct 3 this year, the day before Stephanie.
She was identified by her mother Sandra Larmour, who described her daughter as ‘her beautiful princess and her best friend’ at the time of the tragedy.
Mrs Dilks said: “Jeni was believed, on the evening of Oct 2, to have consumed alcohol and socialised with others from the flat in which she was residing.
“It is believed she may have taken a substance yet to be identified.
“Investigations are ongoing to establish the precise cause of death.”
At the time of the tragedy, Northumbria Police feared the deaths of both women could be linked to the horse tranquiliser ketamine.
A former deputy head girl at The Royal School, Armagh, architecture student Jeni was “a model pupil, exemplifying many of the values which this school seeks to promote”.
“Her outstanding qualities as a pupil were recognised in her final year when she was appointed Deputy Head Girl, a role she carried out to a very high standard,” the school said in a tribute.
Nathaniel, of Halifax, West Yorks, was identified by his dad Alex Pavlovic on Oct 4 in the Royal Victoria Infirmary Newcastle.
Nathaniel was out drinking with friends the night before he died, and to have taken an unidentified substance.
At the time of his death, it was feared that he had taken MDMA. All three inquests were adjourned to a date yet to be confirmed.
A fourth youth, Mark Johnston, 18, of Washington, Tyne and Wear, died over the same weekend, also after having allegedly taken MDMA.
Northumbria Police said they had arrested a total of 11 people in connection with the four deaths. “Enquiries remain ongoing,” said a spokesman.
Chief Insp Steve Wykes encouraged any students in possession of illegal drugs to contact their university wellbeing teams or visit their local police station in order to dispose of them safely.