A judge has described the death from MDMA of Sheffield student Joana Burns as ‘a tragedy in every dimension’, as he sentenced two former Hallam students today.

Burns, 22, died last year after taking the class A drug on a night out at The Tuesday Club to celebrate completing her Maths degree at Sheffield Hallam University.

Jeremy Richardson QC sentenced Joana’s friend and former student Katherine Lavin to six months, and bar worker Benjamin Williams to two and a half years.

In an emotional recent video Mosca Burns, Joana’s mother, revealed that Joana’s sister committed suicide two months after her death.

Sheffield Crown Court heard on 12 October how, in June 2017 Lavin, 21, bought ecstasy from Williams for a group of Sheffield Hallam friends, including Joana Burns, and they all took it willingly.

The judge told her: “Quite how an intelligent young woman, as you are, could do such a foolish thing is almost beyond understanding.

“This case is a tragedy in every dimension. You have wrecked your future.”

Lavin, from Stockport, and Williams, of Melbourne Road, Crookes, both admitted to supplying a controlled Class A drug.

An inquest in May heard that Burns collapsed in the early hours after taking a second ‘bomb’, where pure ecstasy in powder form is wrapped in dissolvable paper, having also taken one before she arrived at The Foundry.

Joana’s mother Mosca Burns disclosed in an emotional interview that Joana’s sister committed suicide two months after the death.

Witnesses said she vomited the second ‘bomb’ immediately after having it, before having a seizure, collapsing near Glossop Road and being rushed to hospital where she passed away.

A South Yorkshire Police report found that the friends each paid £7 for the drug.

Following the death, Sheffield City Council’s licensing committee ordered the SU to bring in 11 different conditions to tighten its drug policy, including sniffer dogs and ID scanners upon entry.

Warning others against taking ecstasy, after the inquest Mosca Burns said: “I would prefer it if nobody took MDMA again because I don’t really think you can assess the risk.”

“It’s not worth the risk.”

Mosca Burns, from Alfreton, Derbyshire, also previously expressed her hope that Joana will be remembered as an inspiration for girls getting into maths, rather than as a victim of illegal drugs.



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