There is no clear evidence to show a link between a host of people who died in suspected-drug related deaths, police have now said.

An investigation was launched in July after six people died in the space of just three days – between July 28 and 30 - in the Westcliff, Leigh, Benfleet and Canvey.

Due to the closeness of the deaths, in both time and geography, and the possibility of Class A drug use, Essex Police launched an investigation to determine whether they were linked.

Unexpectedly, following further toxicology reports, police have confirmed there is no clear scientific evidence to show a link between any of the victims.

Police investigations, subject to a review by a criminal analyst, have also produced findings consistent with this conclusion it has been revealed.

Chief Supt Kevin Baldwin, South LPA Commander, said: “Given the high number of tragic deaths that occurred in such a short space of time and in areas of the county very close to one another, it would have been remiss of Essex police not to have carried out a full and robust investigation.

“As we suspected that a number of the deaths were drug-related we had to take every precaution to warn and inform those members of our community who do use illegal drugs.

“This was to ensure their safety and of course to prevent the possibility of further deaths or illness.

“We worked with our partners in health, support services and local authorities to ensure we did all we could to get our safety message out and protect our communities.

“Whilst the expert findings now show that these deaths were not scientifically linked, we must not forget that six people have sadly passed away and our thoughts remain with them and their families.

“Since our investigation begun we have not had any further reports of deaths in similar circumstances.

“We would continue to remind people that the taking of any illegal drugs will always bring risk as you can never really be sure of exactly what you are taking.

“Our officers, including our specialist Op Raptor teams, continue to do all we can to arrest those who think they can deal illegal drugs on the streets of our county.”

Initially, tributes were paid to 20-year-old Cian Daley who died in his home in Leigh and was suspected of taking drugs.

While tributes were paid to Canvey man, Steven Burdett, 42, before it was discovered he had no drugs in his system and his death was ruled out.

Files for all those who died will now be prepared for Her Majesty’s Coroner.

Two men, a 36-year-old from London and a 29-year-old from Grays, were arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs in connection with the investigation.

They are still on conditional bail until October.

Dad's death ruled out early on


A CANVEY man was the first to have his death ruled out of police’s major investigation into six suspected drug deaths.

Steven Burdett, 42, died on Canvey on July 30, and was initially suspected to be one of the people in south Essex who police believed had died after taking cocaine and heroin.

Mr Burdett was a father of four, who had six siblings and lived on Canvey all his life.

His family initially raised concerns that they did not believe he should be linked to the suspected drug deaths - despite police initially grouping him with five other deaths.

Following results of a toxicology report received on August 9, police confirmed that Mr Burdett’s death was being treated as a potential medical episode and a file would be passed to Her Majesty’s Coroner.

His family originally set up a fundraising page to help pay for his funeral, with family stating they hoped once his name was cleared residents would be forthcoming in their support.

At the time, Kelsey Burdett, Steven’s sister, said: “He was a larger than life person; he wanted the best for his children. His sisters and brother always teased him about his newest venture.

“Though his life was full of ups and downs he always managed a smile. It’s a big loss to our family but his memory will live in our hearts.”