Dad of tragic Scots ecstasy teen Grace Handling says his mission is to stop kids being groomed by dealers on Snapchat


A DAD whose daughter died after taking ecstasy has revealed his mission is now to stop drug dealers grooming youngsters on Snapchat.

Stewart Handling lost daughter Grace, 13, in June 2018, when she took a pill at the home of Callum Owens, 19, in Irvine, Ayrshire.
Grace Handling's dad has vowed to educate youngsters on drugs after his daughter's death

At the High Court in Glasgow on Friday, Stewart knelt in prayer as he waited for the jury to return with a verdict against Owens.

The teenager was charged with culpable homicide after being accused of supplying the killer ecstasy pills - but he walked free after the case was found not proven.

Now Stewart, 50, has revealed he has found a new "calling in life" as he vows to educate youngsters about the dangers of drug use.
Stewart Handling, 50, has found his new calling in lifeCredit: Tom Farmer - The Sun

The devastated dad warned of callous dealers using social media to take advantage of kids - and said it would be "amazing" if his work could stop even one youngster turning to drugs.

Stewart, from Irvine, told the Daily Record: “My calling in life now is warning about the dangers of drugs for young people.

“My mission is to ensure young people know the dangers of taking ecstasy and the fact that dealers are grooming young kids online and on ­Snapchat in Scotland.
Callum Owens, 19, was cleared of culpable homicide after being accused of supplying the killer ecstasy pillsCredit: Tom Farmer - The Sun

“I believe some good can come from this situation if one young life can turn down a drug because of what happened to Grace and say, ‘That wee lassie died, I’m not wanting that’.

“If it can have an effect on one soul, then that’s amazing.”

Outside court on Friday, the dad sobbed as a statement on behalf of  him and his family was read out by Anne-Marie Cocozza of the charity FAMS.

It said: “Grace was an amazing young girl and a very loving and caring daughter. Our lives changed forever on the evening of June 29, 2018.

"We will never get over the sudden loss of our daughter. I didn't even get to say goodbye.

"Whether the accused Callum Owens today was found guilty, not guilty or not proven it will not bring our daughter back home again."

Stewart has since told hold the risk level for grooming and drugs is "at an unacceptable level" in areas across Scotland.

The dad, who has visited schools to educate kids on drugs, added: “This verdict does not define us and the verdict hasn’t altered how I will go forward with my campaigning. If anything it has re-enhanced my calling.

My mission is to ensure young people know the dangers of taking ecstasyStewart Handling

“There are many more people out there like Callum Owens, who give drugs to young people.

“To bring a risk down, you have to put in place measures. At the moment in Scotland, there are many cities, villages, towns and hamlets where the risk is at an unacceptable level.

“There are other people out there on Snapchat, social media and at parties, who are quite willing to give young people drugs in a grooming manner.

"They try you out on drugs first to see if you like the effects of it and pull you in.”

Trainee chef Owens let pal Grace take a pill when she visited him at his home.

He told court he also took an ecstasy pill and woke up to find her dead on his living room floor, but he denied killing her.

The court heard that Grace, who died of ecstasy intoxication, had taken the drug before in the months leading  to her death and her mother and big sister Danielle, 20, had both warned her of the dangers.

Owens told the trial he woke up to find her "cold to the touch with her eyes open".

The 19-year-old also said he was "scared" to phone an ambulance after discovering schoolkid Grace lifeless in his home.

He told jurors he tried in vain to apply CPR then left his house and threw away the remaining pills. Owens said only five of them were left.

Before the jury retired, defence lawyer Donald Findlay QC told them: "Sadly, Grace knew what she was doing. She'd been warned."