Daniel Is Dead

Posted: 6 December 2016 in Cultural, Prisons
Tags: , , , , ,


Daniel is dead.  Jerry is now quaking for his son.  Daniel was 16.  Jerry is a drug dealer and in prison.

Dan Spargo-Mabbs lived in Croydon. The family are regular members of their church, Emmanuel South Croydon. Dan used to run free errands for the elderly people to whom he delivered papers. He also helped out church members with gardening and odd jobs.  You’d be happy to have the family round for dinner.  Fathers – you’d be happy for your 16 year old daughters to date him.

On Friday 17th January 2014, Dan persuaded his mum to let him go to a local party with friends. As Dan was usually responsible, mum agreed. But they went to an illegal rave instead. It was the first time he’d been to a rave. At the rave Dan took MDMA, just half a gramme. He had no way of knowing that there was a lethal amount of MDMA in the bag he had. Five boys in the group took MDMA that night. The other four were fine, but whichever of them had had that bag would have died. It happened to be Dan.

Dan’s body temperature soared to 42 degrees centigrade and above. The paramedics rushed Dan to A&E. He was on life support, his body unable to cope with the effects of the drug. There, machines did the work of his heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and circulatory system. The staff did everything they could to save Dan’s life, but on Monday Dan died, surrounded by his family.

Later, two boys were arrested.  Just lowest order “foot soldiers of crime”.  One conviction.

I was sitting in prison with 6 men.  Three 3 were drug dealers, one a fence living off addicts, one committed robbery explicitly because of his addictions.  Only one was non-drug related.  This was a Sycamore Tree course, run by Prison Fellowship.

And we talk.  Who was the drug dealer’s victim?  Is there one?  One commented “I sold to lawyers, celebrities. In some quarters, drugs are perfectly acceptable“. I replied I regret the double standards f others.  Another said “can the dealer be a victim?  I became one to feed my habit.”  I replied, sure, it gets complicated.  Also “alcohol is a drug too.  It causes ruin and ill health.”  I commented, too true.  So-  do we want yet more potentially addictive substances on the streets then?

Daniel’s story put punctures in these defences.  Daniel’s parents had come into the prison to face these and other men.  They calmly told their terrible tale.  My guys later said “Wow, it is right in front of you.”  I commented that we had discussed this last week.  “Yeah, sure, but this really brings it home to you.”  “I never thought about the end user.  In my supply, I never saw these people.  Now I really know they are there.” Jerry said “You’ve got to think – I’ve got a boy of 16, the same age as  Daniel.  And he’s taking drugs.  He thinks it OK because his dad did drugs.  I’m really anxious about him.

Drug deaths and damage don’t just relate to troubled kids from dysfunctional families.  Dan was a regular boy from a solid church going family.  Drugs are ubiquitous amongst teenagers.  The damage is deep and wide.  Not just Daniel’s family.  The family of the kid-supplier in jail.  Daniel’s four mates who also took MDMA that fatal night.  Jerry in jail and his family.  Jerry’s son at real risk.

By God’s grace, Daniel’s parents reach out to prisons and schools to turn their bitter bitter pain into an unseen joy.  Unseen?  For all the funerals that won’t happen.  For all doors that won’t now be knocked by the police.  For all those who will stick to legal retail rather than drug retail.  For all the kids who will get presents, not coffins, on Christmas Day.


  • For more about Daniel’s story, look here.
  • For more about Sycamore Tree, look here.
  • Jerry – it’s not his real name.



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