Alesha Fernando “presented” as older but was only 13 when she died of an overdose after taking the party drug GHB. Picture: Supplied
Alesha Fernando “presented” as older but was only 13 when she died of an overdose after taking the party drug GHB. Picture: Supplied

Chilling Snapchats before 13yo died

A 13-year-old girl who died of a GHB overdose turned to a hard-partying lifestyle of drugs and alcohol because she "longed" to be confident, a court has heard.

Alesha Fernando's shocking June 2017 death after consuming at least six millilitres of GHB is the subject of a Coroners Court of Victoria inquest.

The court is investigating if Alesha's tragic death was preventable and if she and her family had adequate access to support services.

An analysis of her hair showed she had consumed ecstasy, synthetic drugs, MDMA, MDA and speed in the months leading up to her death, the court heard.

She would also talk about taking LSD and cannabis, and said she was once hospitalised after a spray can-type inhalant caused an episode of psychotic hallucinations, witnesses told coroner Paresa Spanos.

Social worker Amanda Heaton-Harris, who worked with Alesha when she was aged 12, broke down when recalling the "bubbly and charismatic" girl.

She told the court through tears, "she was gorgeous".

Alesha's parents - sitting in front of a framed photo of their daughter as they appeared in court over videolink - comforted her that she was "awesome" with Alesha.

Alesha Fernando was bubbly, charismatic and extremely likeable, a social worker who worked with her said.
Alesha Fernando was bubbly, charismatic and extremely likeable, a social worker who worked with her said.

 

A coronial inquest is investigating if her tragic death of a GHB overdose was preventable. Picture: Supplied
A coronial inquest is investigating if her tragic death of a GHB overdose was preventable. Picture: Supplied

Ms Heaton-Harris said Alesha "presented" as older than she was, with dramatic make-up and nails and a confident personality when she had consumed drugs and alcohol.

But she said it was clear during their sessions that Alesha was only 12.

"She was incredibly young," she said.

"She did present physically older than, perhaps, I guess, other 12-year-olds.

"But speaking with her, although she may have been street-smart, you realised that developmentally there was a young 12-year-old there."

Alesha's medical support was turned off after she was rushed to hospital following a night of partying with her female best friend and two men on June 19, 2017.

The then-19-year-old who gave her the GHB, Luke Delphin, was jailed in 2018 for a minimum of two years convicted of supplying a drug of dependence to a child.

The judge accepted that he believed her when she told the boys she was 17.

The court heard Alesha and her best friend had uploaded pictures of their night to Snapchat, causing another friend to fear for her safety and come and check on her.

Her friend found her lying on a blow-up mattress within Delphin's arm and leg across her.

She was pale and her lips were purple.

Luke Delphin, 19 when he gave 13-year-old Alesha Fernando six doses of GHB, was jailed in 2018 for supplying a drug of dependence to a child.
Luke Delphin, 19 when he gave 13-year-old Alesha Fernando six doses of GHB, was jailed in 2018 for supplying a drug of dependence to a child.

 

Alesha’s mum Katrina Gavan speaks to the media in 2018 following Luke Delphin’s criminal charges. She is now sitting through a coronial inquest into her daughter’s death. Picture: AAP Image/Amber Wilson
Alesha’s mum Katrina Gavan speaks to the media in 2018 following Luke Delphin’s criminal charges. She is now sitting through a coronial inquest into her daughter’s death. Picture: AAP Image/Amber Wilson

An ambulance rushed her to the Monash Children's Hospital but nothing could be done and she was pronounced dead at 5.10pm on June 21, 2017.

An autopsy found she had "not been interfered with" and had died of the symptoms of GHB toxicity.

Ms Heaton-Harris said Alesha had low self-esteem and strong social anxiety which contributed to her dropping out of school.

Alcohol and drugs allowed her to "gain that confidence that she otherwise longed for without," she said.

But she had high hopes for her future, the court heard.

"She'd say, 'I'm not going to end up on the dole and do nothing with my life'," Ms Heaton-Harris said.

The court also heard from creative arts therapist Kate Perry, who said Alesha was in the process of "setting up a healthier future for herself".

She said a close friend was trying to convince her that "she was a person who was worthwhile without being off her face".

"She'd drink a lot before she went out in order to have the confidence to enter the social situation," she said.

"She was using (drugs) to feel brave and confident in the social world."

The coroner's findings will be handed down early next year.

Originally published as Chilling Snapchats before 13yo died


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