A Millbrook couple have spoken of their horror after their two-year-old daughter discovered deadly legal highs at a children’s play park.
Little Bella McCalmont was playing in the council-owned facility directly behind her house at Drumahoe Road last Wednesday, when she came across a small, sealed green sachet bearing an image of a red dragon.
Thinking the packet contained sweets, the youngster took it home to show her parents.
Bella’s shocked mum Kirsty McMurray told the Larne Times: “The packet had the name ‘Magic Dragon’ on the front and I knew straight away what it was.
“It said ‘not for sale to anyone under 18’ and ‘not fit for human consumption’. I just couldn’t believe it.
“Bella thought it was sweets, so it’s lucky she didn’t open it and eat it.
“She said she found the packet in the shelter next to the play park; I often see teenagers sitting in that shelter taking these legal highs and other substances.
“It’s an absolute disgrace that a child can’t even go to a play park without finding dangerous substances lying about.”
Kirsty and her partner, Norman McCalmont, are now calling on legislation to be introduced banning the sale of so-called legal highs, similar to the laws in place in the Republic of Ireland.
“Something needs to be done to stamp out the scourge of legal highs,” Kirsty added.
In the wake of Bella’s startling discovery, Millbrook Community Group held a public meeting in the Community Centre on Friday night, which was attended by up to 100 concerned residents, as well as representatives from the PSNI and Larne Borough Council.
Larne Councillor Gregg McKeen, who chaired the meeting, told the Times: “There is strong feeling of fear in the community at present regarding the issue of legal highs and other illegal substances.
“Just a few weeks ago, police seized an amount of cannabis from two houses in the Millbrook area.
“And the discovery of legal highs in the local play park by a young child is a scary development.
“This meeting was an opportunity provide information and advice to residents regarding the dangers of these substances.
“The power to ban legal highs from being sold lies with Westminister. The council will continue to lobby for the matter to be raised in Parliament, in the hopes that the law can be changed.”
Sgt Colin Skinner of Larne Neighbourhood Policing Team, who was also present at the meeting, spoke of the difficulties faced by the PSNI in tackling legal highs.
“Ultimately, legal highs cannot be policed out because their sale does not contravene criminal law. However, police will be doing our part, where possible, to help keep people safe,” he added.