The West

Mum wants to meet dead daughter s dealer
Martha Fernback, as pictured on the cover of 5,742 Days: A Mother's Journey Through Loss, by her mother, Anne-Marie Cockburn. Photo: Infinite Ideas

A mother who watched her daughter die after taking an ecstasy tablet wants to meet the dealer who supplied the drug.

London's Daily Mail reports that Anne-Marie Cockburn says she wanted to talk to the 17-year-old dealer about what happened and encourage him to help with her fight against recreational drug use among teenagers.

This week, Alex Williams, who supplied the tablet that killed Martha, was spared custody. He was given a three-month curfew and an 18-month rehabilitation order after he admitted supplying a controlled drug.

Anti-drug campaigners were outraged, but Mrs Cockburn, 42, wants something positive to emerge from daughter Martha's tragic death.

In her diary on July 21 - the day after Martha died - the heartbroken mother wrote: "My 15-year-old daughter died yesterday. I watched them try to save her.

"They pumped her chest and drilled something into her leg, but I knew she was already dead on arrival at the hospital.

"They elevated her arms, but I don't know why: her eyes were half-open and she was way beyond the clouds and stars already."

On the morning of her death Martha went kayaking on a lake with friends and Mrs Cockburn went shopping, according to the Daily Mail.

The Mail reports that was having fun on the water that Martha took an ecstasy pill and suffered a cardiac arrest.

Martha died at just 15 years of age. Photo: Supplied

"I honestly believe that. Martha couldn't have imagined this would be the end of her life at the age of 15," Mrs Cockburn said. "What I am interested in is what he does with his (dealer) life from now on. He's been given an opportunity, so let's see what he does with it," she said.

The court heard that Williams was consumed by "overwhelming guilt" over what had happened.

The Daily Mail reports that in an extraordinary display of clemency, Mrs Cockburn said she would like to talk to Williams.

"Seeing him in court, one feeling I didn't have, and have never had, is anger or hatred," she told the Mail. "I lost everything the day Martha died and I simply couldn't cope with hating someone. It would eat me up: it would finish me.

Anne-Marie Cockburn. Photo: itv News

"When people ask what I feel about his sentence, the truth is that I'm not particularly interested.

"What I am interested in is what he does with his life from now on. He's been given an opportunity, so let's see what he does with it. I have this amazing thought that at some point in the future we could work together, him and me.

"I'm not saying it would be an easy thing to do, but I'm not ruling it out. I can see it would be a very powerful scenario: a mother who lost her child and a boy who used to deal drugs telling people about the dangers.

"He and I could work together: A mother who lost her child and a boy who used to deal drugs telling people about the dangers.

"The court case had been hanging over my head for a long time, so I felt a mixture of relief and foreboding when it finally came to the moment to go to court.

"I tried to prepare myself mentally for seeing him, but how do you prepare yourself for something likethat?

"I'd never met Alex (Williams). Some accounts have said he was Martha's friend, but that wasn't the case. I'd never heard of him and he was not part of Martha's circle in any way.

"As he came into court, I looked him straight in the eye and he looked straight back at me. It was very hard to interpret that look. But he went on to describe how full of remorse he is, so I hope he was saying sorry."

Oxford Crown Court was told that the student, already on a police warning for cannabis possession, had sold an exceptionally pure MDMA to a friend of Martha's for $75.

The two friends decided to share it, but Martha waited until three days later to take hers at the lake party.

Friends described how she started sweating heavily, before collapsing.

Mrs Cockburn, who until recently ran her own marketing company, has turned her experience into a book, according to the Daily Mail.

She hopes that by writing about the aftermath of Martha's split-second decision to take ecstasy, she can help other parents and teenagers to think twice about drugs.

"There's no word for what I'd become - maybe it's too terrible a situation to have a word for," she told the Mail. "I'm not a widow, an orphan or a divorcee - they all have a word.

"To describe what I am, I need nine words: I'm a single mother whose only child is dead."

All that makes sense to Anne-Marie is to document the experience in the hope that others will learn from it.

The West Australian

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