Mum Karen Audino launches website after claims son Jimmy Guichard died from legal highs
A mother who claims she lost her son to legal highs is this week launching a website warning others of the dangers of the lawful 'drugs'.
Karen Audino spoke out because she believes her 20-year-old son Jimmy Guichard died after taking synthetic cannabis.
She this week revealed Kent Police have told her the legal high - often marketed as 'herbal incense' - was found in his room.
Jimmy Guichard's grieving mother Karen Audino
Her new website comes in the week KentOnline launches its own campaign to crack down on legal highs.
Jimmy's family decided to turn off his life-support machine after he was found unconscious at his Gravesend home following a heart attack in October.
His mother Karen Audino claimed empty plastic bags found beside him were evidence he took the legal highs shortly before his death. She is now calling for a total ban.
She said: “I was told there were two packets by him. One was empty and one was full. His dad had said he had gone into Chatham that morning to purchase them.”
The youngster’s post-mortem, released in November, revealed there were no traces of alcohol or illegal drugs in his system.
One of the last family pictures of Jimmy Guichard, with sister Sam and mum Karen Audino at Thope Park
His mother, who has been living in Northern Ireland after moving from Hextable in 2005, is struggling to come to terms with losing her only son.
She said: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking to think that something that just anyone can walk in and buy from a shop, as if they’re buying sweets and a newspaper, can do this.
“My life has changed beyond recognition. Some days are better than others and some days are absolutely terrible.
Jimmy Guichard in intensive care in hospital shortly before his death
"We’ve just had Christmas and New Year and it was very, very poignant that there was an empty chair at the table.”
The 42-year-old has since set up a Facebook campaign, Legal High Awareness and Prevention, which has had almost 800 likes at the time of going to print.
She is also launching a website this week, called Jimmy’s Law, in order to share her son’s story and raise awareness of the effects of legal highs.
She said: “I want a complete ban on the shops selling them. I want the shops to not be able to sell them from their website too.
“These legal highs need to be regulated and they need to be tested. We need to know what’s going in them. We know what the components are for cannabis and cocaine but we don’t know what the components are for legal highs.”
She admits each and every day is a struggle when you do not have any answers for your only son’s death.
She said: “My son is not going to be a number, he’s not going to be a statistic. Something good has to come out of this.”
Matt Ford, 17, is all too familiar with the pain caused by legal highs after he was left just minutes from death following a heart attack.
Matt Ford says he nearly died after taking a legal high
The teenager, formerly of Whitstable, was left shaking, foaming at the mouth, unable to move or speak and suffering from blurred vision after taking a bong of Exodus Damnation.
Within minutes he was being rushed to Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
He said: “I remember when the paramedics were there, every time I closed my eyes all I could see was a dragon-like, devil sort of figure. Every time I had my eyes open it was just horrible.”
He added: “If I’d have known it would have happened I’d never have suggested buying the stuff.”
“My son is not going to be a number, he’s not going to be a statistic. Something good has to come out of this” - Karen Audino
He and his friends bought the substance from UK Skunkworks in the city, despite being underage, a matter the company were previously unavailable to comment on.
The former Canterbury College student added: “I want them banned. I don’t want any to be sold in a shop ever again. They are horrible and disgusting.”
Mr Ford is now worried about his health, after taking what he now feels is a ‘lethal drug’.
“I’ve done illegal drugs and legal highs but no illegal drug has ever come anywhere near as dangerous as that.”
See tomorrow, how every secondary pupil in one Kent town is to be told of the dangers of legal highs in police visits.
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