Father's heartbreak at son's drug death

AN Ipswich father who watched helplessly as his only son's crippling drug habit spiralled out of control today warned of the deadly perils of substance misuse.

AN Ipswich father who watched helplessly as his only son's crippling drug habit spiralled out of control today warned of the deadly perils of substance misuse.

Heartbroken Neville Lankester spoke out as he prepared for the funeral of his son Carl on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old former Westbourne High School pupil, died following a lethal addiction which spanned 13 years.

Mr Lankester today told how Carl:

began sniffing glue at 13

moved on to smoking cannabis a year later

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was taking ecstasy and amphetamines at 16

developed a cocaine habit at 20

become hooked on heroin at 23.

His warning comes after substance treatment experts in Ipswich revealed there had been a 30 per cent increase in the number of young people with cannabis dependency problems since the drug was reclassified from class B to C in January 2004.

In a moving appeal to any young person considering experimenting with drugs, Mr Lankester, 69, said: “Every kid is precious and deserves a life. My message to youngsters mixing in drugs is simple - don't go there.

“Addicts are destroying their own lives and they can't see it. There's so much more to life than drugs.”

Carl died at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridgeshire on August 27 after suffering a brain haemorrhage, which doctors believe could have been induced by years of drug consumption.

Mr Lankester, of New Cut West in Ipswich, said the seeds of his son's problems were sewn at an early age.

Carl's mother, Jane, who died last year, left the family home when he was just four-years-old, causing their relationship to rapidly deteriorate.

He was also subjected to bullying at school, which, according to Mr Lankester, left him as an outcast.

During his late teens, Carl spent a number of spells in prison for burglary, caused his father said, by his desperation to feed his deadly habit.

Mr Lankester said: “Carl would have been as happy as any other person if he had stayed away from drugs. But his death was just waiting to happen.

“He spent time in prison for burglaries and once for grievous bodily harm. His longest spell in prison was three years, but it was all linked to his habit.

“He got into glue sniffing at 13, then cannabis became a problem.

“Then he moved on to ecstasy and amphetamines and he was about 20 when he got into cocaine. The heroin came at about 23. He was spending at least £100 a week on drugs.”

Mr Lankester said he tried to wean his son off substance misuse.

“He had just come out of prison and I bought him a motorbike,” he said. “I hadn't got him anything for his 21st birthday so I said I'd buy it for him, so he could get to work. I just wanted him to live a normal life.

“But, just like everything I bought him, it was eventually sold for drugs.

“He slept rough for about 15 months because I kicked him out. The needles were being left around the place and he was sleeping throughout the day and going out at night.

“He would steal off me and would steal from other people. Things would go missing and he would lie about it. There is no better liar than a druggie.

“He wouldn't consider that it was wrong. He just knew he needed the money for his drugs. He would always tell me what I wanted to hear.”

Carl's funeral will take place on September 12 at Clopton Church.

NEVILLE Lankester said he would try to remember only the happy times with son Carl.

“He was a loving and caring boy and he was a real character,” he said. “I would certainly know when he was about.

“Carl's eyes would light up when he saw me. On a good day, he would ask about my day and he would sing away as happy as a bird in the wood.

“He would go two or three days without drugs then you would see the old Carl again. He wanted to get out of it but he couldn't. He was easily led.”

Carl leaves three sisters, Michelle, 27, and twins Julie and Mandy, 29.

Julie said: “He was not a bad person. He got in the wrong crowd of friends and found it hard to get away, but he wanted to escape.

“He tried to get himself clean, but then he would bump into the wrong people again.

“His dream was to have a family of his own.

“I will keep the childhood memories of Carl. He was a very caring and loving boy. He was not a lazy lowlife, he would graft for his money.

“Carl would get on with anybody. When he came round there would always be a kiss goodbye.”

Would you like to pay tribute to Carl Lankester? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

CANNABIS use among young people in Ipswich has spiralled since the drug was reclassified, an expert warned today.

Patrick Palmer, a treatment manager at the Iceni Project, said there had been a 30 per cent increase in the numbers reporting dependency problems since cannabis was lowered from class B to C in January 2004.

He said: “Before it was downgraded, there was some level of caution. Relaxing the law has meant people see it differently.

“It's a nightmare. People underestimate how the psychological dependency builds up.

“The majority of government funding is there to tackle class A drug use. There isn't the same funding to deal with cannabis problems because there isn't the same level of criminal activity associated with it.”

Reclassifying cannabis again might make a difference, but following a review requested by then home secretary, David Blunkett.

Scientists believe regular cannabis use can have significant mental health effects. The modern form of the drug is far more potent than that used in the 1960s because of the high content of THC, the ingredient that provides the “buzz”.

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