Teenager cleared of killing schoolgirl by supplying ecstasy

Callum Owens admitted giving Grace Handling the drug but denied culpable homicide.

Teenager cleared of killing schoolgirl by supplying ecstasy

A teenager has been cleared of killing a 13-year-old girl after admitting supplying her with ecstasy.

Callum Owens admitted giving Grace Handling a pill on June 28, 2018, from a bag of nine he had bought.

The schoolgirl was later found dead in 19-year-old Owens’ house in Irvine, North Ayrshire.

Owens denied culpable homicide, and at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday a majority jury found the charge not proven.

On Thursday prosecutors urged the jury to convict the trainee chef of culpable homicide, claiming he “recklessly” supplied Grace with the drug.

Alex Prentice QC said: “Grace went to his house and he supplied her with a potentially lethal drug. That was a reckless act and that led to her death. I invite you to convict him on culpable homicide.”

The court heard that Grace, who died of ecstasy intoxication, had taken the drug before in the months leading to her death and her mother and big sister had both warned her of the dangers.

Defence QC Donald Findlay said: “This was nobody’s choice bar Grace’s. Sadly Grace knew what she was doing. She knew the risks. She had been warned.”

He added: “At the moment Grace swallowed the tablet she knew the risks and was prepared to take those risks – you can’t lay that at Callum Owens’ door.”

During Owens’ evidence, he told the court that the pair were listening to music and chatting when Grace asked if she could take one of the pills.

He claimed they both took a single pill and after the effects of the drug kicked in, Owens fell asleep on the floor.

Owens said when he woke up: “She wasn’t breathing. She was cold to the touch and her eyes were open.”

He told the jurors that he splashed water on his face and then went back into the living room and tried to apply CPR to Grace without success.

Owens then left the house taking the remaining ecstasy tablets with him.

He said he expected to find seven pills in the plastic bag, but there were only five, which he said he threw away.

Owens claimed he was not aware of Grace taking a further two pills.

When asked why he did not phone for an ambulance, or for the police or his parents for Grace, he replied: “I was just scared.”

A charge against Owens of supplying ecstasy between June 25 and 29, 2018, was earlier withdrawn by the Crown. 

Before the jury came back with their verdict, Grace’s father Stewart Handling knelt in prayer.

Outside court, a statement on behalf of Grace’s family was read out by Anne Marie Cocozza, from support charity FAMS.

It said: “Grace was an amazing young girl and a very loving and caring daughter.”

The family said their “lives changed forever” on the night she died.

They added: “We will never get over the sudden loss of our daughter.”

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