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‘Gifted’ journalism student dies after taking ecstasy

A gifted would-be showbiz journalist died after taking a fatal dose of ecstasy on a night out with her boyfriend, an inquest has heard.

As previously reported on HTFP, Tayla Woodard collapsed at her boyfriend’s home in Worcester Park, south London, in the early hours of March 9 this year.

Tayla, who was in her final year of a multimedia journalism degree course at Bournemouth University, had had been to the Plan B club in Brixton, London, where she had taken MDMA – popularly known as ecstasy.

Paramedics tried to revive the 20-year-old, but she died in hospital.

At the time, police described her death as “unexplained.”

However an inquest at West London Coroners Court heard that toxicology reports showed Tayla – who regularly wrote for Bournemouth independent newspaper the Rock – had taken 1.64mg/l of MDMA, which was within a fatal range.

Tayla’s father, Russell Woodard, told the inquest: “She confessed to us in her first year of uni that she had taken drugs.

“At the time I did some research on the internet. I found it quite difficult to get information about it – all the information came from other MDMA users and forums.

“I said to her ‘Do you think it would be a good idea to carry on taking it because you don’t know what’s in it?’

“That’s when she probably thought it best not to tell me she had taken it. I would not be surprised to find out she had taken it after that but surprised that she had taken it every three weeks.”

He added he had seen his daughter just a few weeks before her death when she had visited the family home in Wadebridge, Cornwall, and had cooked.

He said: “It was a great visit. We had a really nice time.”

Boyfriend Alex Rickett, a product design student also at Bournemouth University, told the inquest he had picked up his girlfriend from the station after she had travelled from Bournemouth to see him that day.

They had relaxed during the day before buying some vodka and wine for the train journey into Brixton at about 10.15pm with two friends.

He added his girlfriend had brought along the MDMA in crystal form and that it was normal for the couple to take the drugs every two to three weeks.

Speaking of how much the pair had taken from the bag of one gram, he said: “Not as much as we normally do”.

But Mr Rickett described Tayla as “normal” on their way home and said they had even been “mucking about” after a taxi dropped them 10 minutes away from home at about 4am.

Detective Constable Ian Moody from Kingston confirmed the remainder of the brown powder was taken back to be examined and an investigation opened after another empty bag containing remains of White MDMA powder was found in Tayla’s denim jacket.

“That was analysed and found to be MDMA as well,” he said.

The coroner confirmed that when he was interviewed by police Mr Rickett said he did not know anything about a second bag.

Recording a verdict of accidental death from MDMA toxicity, Mr Jeremy Chipperfield said “intentional use of MDMA” was not unusual for young people, adding: “Unfortunately on this occasion it had tragic and fatal consequences.”

Tayla attended Wadebridge School before studying psychology, photography, English literature and language, and human biology at Truro College between 2009 and 2011.

Cheryl Mewton, director of studies at the college, said: “Tayla was a gifted and talented student, who was mature and motivated.”

Tayla began her degree at Bournemouth University in the autumn of 2011, and in her final year she was working on a major project about the lack of support for young people with depression in the UK and the benefit of creative therapy.

Tributes were paid Tayla at the time of her death. Bournemouth journalism student Nick Reilly said: “Such a tragic loss. Shine on forever. BAMMJ graduates of 2014 will always remember you.”

Student Jessica James added: “Tayla Woodard so glad to have so many lovely memories with you! R.I.P Tay, love and miss you forever and always.”

Tayla leaves her parents, Julia and Russell, and younger siblings Jodie and Sam.


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  • September 16, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Shame on you Digger – a despicable comment. As a parent myself (presume Digger isn’t) my thoughts go to the family- a tragic loss.

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  • September 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    A comment like Digger’s is probably more suited to the Daily Mail’s comments section.

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  • September 19, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Back to the Daily Mail with you, Digger. Please close down your account here and bog off.

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  • September 22, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Nice to see the house rules being so rigidly enforced.

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