Two mothers who struck up an unlikely friendship after losing their two children to drugs showed up this morning.
Kerry Roberts’ daughter Leah Hayes, 15, died after taking MDMA in May 2019, in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, delivered by Connor Kirkwood, now 19.
Connor, along with Mitchell Southern, 19, pleaded guilty to selling drugs in 2020 and was sentenced to 21 months in a juvenile delinquent center. He served for six months before being partially released for good behavior and because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Connor’s mother Tammy, who spoke alongside Kerry, revealed that her son, who is on the autism spectrum, had been cared for by urban County Lines gangs, which recruit young and vulnerable teens to deal drugs for them in rural areas.
However, viewers felt that Tammy was talking about how her son smiled and that studying after he was released from a juvenile delinquent institution was insensitive to grieving mother Kerry.
Kerry Roberts’ daughter, Leah Hayes, died after taking MDMA in May 2019 in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. Connor Kirkwood, 17 at the time, supplied Leah with the drug that killed her. Kerry has revealed that she has become sisters in arms with his mother, Tammy
Tammy Kirkwood appeared on This Morning alongside Kerry and said her son’s “smile” would return. Connor was sentenced to 21 months in a juvenile delinquent institution, but only served six months
Kerry spoke first and remembered Leah as a “funny” and “lively” teenager.
“She was full of it. She was 15, so she was quite vocal, she was pushing boundaries, but she knew how to live and she always had the best time,” she said.
Kerry explained that she received a call from Leah who told her she was not feeling well the night of her death.
Kerry was pregnant with another child at the time, now two, but her partner had told her that everything was normal at home and that Leah was just going out with some friends.
Leah, 15, took the drug while going out with some friends to experiment. Connor had been cared for by drug dealers in the county from the age of 14
‘I wasn’t there, I was in the hospital. I was pregnant with my little girl, she’s almost two, so I wasn’t home. But my partner, he said there was nothing.
“It was just a normal Saturday night. She had a friend in the room, music on, they went out.
When the couple later got a call and went to pick up Leah from the park, they thought she had had too much to drink.
‘She was on the floor. My partner stayed in the car. Again, we thought she was drinking too much, and I would pull her to the car,” the distraught mother said.
“I was halfway through and I called him. I knew something wasn’t right. I got to her and she was pretty quiet, she said ‘mama’ so she was still conscious, but it wasn’t long before she left,” she added.
“I think she drove past the parking lot. When I walked into the hospital, the police, the nurses, they all had their heads down, so I knew,” she said.
She told Holly and Phil that the pain was still very raw and that Leah’s death “could have happened yesterday.”
But she admitted that her first thought after her daughter’s death was to “be mad at her.”
‘I was mad at her. My first thought was, “Why would she do it?” she said.
“Now I think she was just ignorant, naive, she was 15.”
People Said It Was Hard To Listen To Tammy Say Connor Laughing And Studying Again While Kerry’s Daughter Was Dead
She also said the fact that MDMA was commonly referred to as a “party drug” would have attracted Leah, who may have taken it because she thought she would have a little fun.
As she sat on the couch next to Kerry, Connor’s mother shared her side of the story, explaining how her son had been “groomed” by an adult drug dealer to carry out their bidding from 2 to 5 p.m.
She said Connor used to be a happy kid and loved sports, but his behavior changed when he was sent to boarding school at age 14.
Concerned for her son’s well-being, Tammy, noticing his mood swing, transferred him to the local school.
Kerry remembered Leah as a ‘funny’ teen, but admitted she was naive about drugs and may have been taking MDMA because she thought it would be a bit of fun
She said Connor’s “big smile began to fade” and that he was losing interest in sports.
She added that Connor suffered from anxiety and adjustment, and said the drug gangs prayed for his vulnerabilities.
“It’s kids who introduce kids to these adults who use them,” she said.
She related how the police knocked on her door the night Leah died, looking for Connor.
“We thought he got into a fight with a friend and drove away from where he was,” she said.
Finally, the teen returned home and Tammy called the police. She said they broke into her house and arrested him shortly after.
She said it was a “nightmare” to find out that Connor had played a part in Leah’s death.
“You just get sedated,” she said, adding that she thought, “How can my child be a part of this?”
She said she had called the police for her own son several times before Leah’s death, and that Connor should have gotten more support from the Yorkshire Police.
After his arrest, Connor was sent to a juvenile delinquent institution, but was released six months later.
After Connor’s verdict, Kerry and Tammy were introduced to each other by the police to help each other come to terms with their experience. Then they formed an unlikely friendship.
“We’re two mothers, we’re victims in different ways, but we’re both victims,” Kerry said. “We want the same things.”
Tammy added that she was very nervous when she first met Kerry because she had “a lot of guilt.”
“I’m the drug dealer’s mother. That’s scum of the earth, I had no control over the child,” she said, explaining how some people might see her.
“We spoke once a week, it just made it our story to tell each other, understand each other and it just flowed,” she said.
Now both moms are working together on a campaign called Do You Know MDMA? to warn young people about the dangers of drugs.
Kerry has called for a change in the law to protect children with tougher penalties for offenders.
Tammy said Connor was rehabilitating to normal life after his time at the Young Offenders Institute.
“His smile comes back, I see glimpses of it. He is now very concentrated. He works 48 hours a week, he does college work in the evenings, he goes to the gym.
“He’s extremely focused now. So every now and then I get a glimpse of his smile.
And his love for sports is back. But I can still see that he is nervous. He has sometimes explained to me how his body feels, how he is anxious and how his heart is pounding. So I still see that vulnerability.’
She added that she was worried that Connor would be lured by a gang and start dealing drugs again, but said she could only support him and hope he wouldn’t.
This last comment did not go down well with viewers, who found it insensitive to Kerry, who had lost her daughter.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like to hear his smile come back when your daughter never will,” one wrote.