Council ‘sorry’ after boy, 7, finds dirty needle in Exmouth public toilet

PUBLISHED: 11:54 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:07 29 August 2018

Kerry Mulcahy pictured with her son Ethan, 7. Insert, the syringe Ethan picked up in Exmouth after mistaking it for a pen. Pictures: Kerry Mulcahy

Kerry Mulcahy pictured with her son Ethan, 7. Insert, the syringe Ethan picked up in Exmouth after mistaking it for a pen. Pictures: Kerry Mulcahy

Archant

A mum has described the terror of seeing her young son grasping a dirty syringe he found on the floor of a public toilet in Exmouth.

The syringe Ethan picked up in Exmouth recently after mistaking it for a pen. Pictures: Kerry MulcahyThe syringe Ethan picked up in Exmouth recently after mistaking it for a pen. Pictures: Kerry Mulcahy

“Look Mum, I’ve found a pen,” said Ethan, aged seven, as he grabbed a used needle from the floor of the disabled toilet, in Manor Gardens, last week.

Horrified mum, Kerry Mulcahy, screamed for him to drop it then noticed a biohazard bin brimming with dirty needles and a dustbin full of empty syringe wrappers.

East Devon District Council apologised for the ‘awful’ incident and admitted it is struggling to manage the ‘sheer volume of needles in use at the moment’, due to a ‘wider’ drug and homelessness issue.

A picture, taken by Kerry, shows the 'sharps' bin ful, with used syringes sticking out. Picture: Kerry MulcahyA picture, taken by Kerry, shows the 'sharps' bin ful, with used syringes sticking out. Picture: Kerry Mulcahy

A spokesman for East Devon District Council said: “It is awful that a mother has gone through this situation and we totally sympathise with how distressing it must have been.

“This is a very rare occurrence and we are liaising with the police due to the sheer volume of needles in use at the moment.

“Due to excessive use, this particular one became full.

A picture also shows a dustbin in the disabled toilet half-filled with empty syringe wrappers. Picture: Kerry MulcahyA picture also shows a dustbin in the disabled toilet half-filled with empty syringe wrappers. Picture: Kerry Mulcahy

“We know that there is an issue with drug use in these toilets and we believe it is related to a wider homelessness and drug issue in the region.

“We are sorry for the distress caused and are doing our best to keep the facility clean and open for general public use.”

The council said ‘sharps’ bins were introduced to Exmouth in 2017 for a ‘safer environment’; they are checked and emptied weekly and daily in peak season.

Inspector Antonia Weeks, at Exmouth, said police ‘regularly patrol’ the toilets and surrounding areas to discourage anti-social behaviour and the open use of drugs.

Kerry and husband Anthony had spent the day in Exmouth and stopped to use the toilets on their way home to Exeter, with sons, Ethan and Harry, aged one.

Busy changing Harry’s nappy, Kerry did not notice the state of the cubicle until Ethan alerted her to the used needle. “Turning around and seeing my child there with a needle is one of the most terrifying things I have seen, especially because it was used,” said Kerry. “My stomach just dropped and I shouted ‘put it down!’. He dropped it instantly and started crying; he thought he was in trouble”

“I just feel angry,” said Kerry. “We were lucky this time, but it could have ended in a trip to A&E and worse. If he had pricked his finger he could have had a life-changing disease.

“The sharps bin should be emptied more often, or what is the point?”

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