UKSkunkworks employee sacked after Matt Ford sold Exodus Damnation legal high and suffered heart attack
A staff member at a controversial shop in Canterbury has been sacked for selling a legal high to a teenager who suffered a heart attack after taking it.
Student Matt Ford, who works in Faversham, collapsed after smoking a herb called Exodus Damnation at his home and was described as minutes from death by medics who saved him.
The 17-year-old and two of his friends bought the herbal incense at the UKSkunkworks store in Northgate – where bosses say company policy bans the sale of such substances to under 18s.
Matt Ford says he nearly died after taking a legal high
This week, the shop’s manager apologised for the catastrophic mistake and confirmed the employee responsible for serving the teenager had been sacked.
Graham, who refused to give his surname, said: “The decision was taken because we need to ID everyone, even if they look over 18.
“It’s a legal obligation for everyone to carry ID, and they can’t be served unless they have it.
“This was a catastrophic mistake. I wouldn’t like it to happen to my daughter or son and I deeply apologise. It shouldn’t have happened.”
But while he expressed remorse that an under 18 was served in his shop, he said he was not sorry for selling the legal high.
The UK Skunkworks shop in Canterbury
“You can buy this stuff anywhere nowadays. There’s countless shops selling it all over the place .”
The story about Matt’s ordeal last week attracted local and national media attention, led to a Sunday People investigation into the proliferation of legal highs and prompted Julian Brazier to renew calls for legislation to be tightened.
The Canterbury and Whitstable MP branded UK Skunkworks a squalid operation and wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May to call for a change in the law.
In the letter, he said: “Skunkworks’ get-out clause for the sale is that the herb is not for human consumption, but their advice is to help you relax by burning the herbs in the home.
A packet of Exodus Damnation
“I find these twisted semantics as repugnant as I am sure you do. The fact remains that the shop knowingly sells intoxicants and highs, with the apparent blessing of the law.”
“This was a catastrophic mistake. I wouldn’t like it to happen to my daughter or son and I deeply apologise" - Graham from UKSkunkworks
Mr Brazier went on: “I suggest that we change the wording of the law to include general drug groupings, instead of named chemicals, as close chemical cousins are being discovered all the time, often causing extreme harm before they are banned.
“Skunkworks, its fellow shops and its websites must be banned.
“The Misuse of Drugs Act needs to be re-examined and toughened up, as it was framed long before the internet and widespread availability of chemical highs. I believe it is no longer fit for purpose.”
Matt, who lives in Foxgrove Road, Whitstable, and works as a kitchen fitter in Faversham, added: “If I can’t help to get it banned then I just want to make sure it won’t happen to anyone else.”
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