Father speaks out on legal highs after his son dies with seven empty packets in front of him

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A heartbroken father has spoken out against legal highs after his son was found dead with seven empty packets in front of him.

Joel Fox’s body was discovered at his flat in Soberton Road, Havant, on October 16. The father-of-two was just 45 and had suffered mental illness, including psychosis, for 20 years.

Joel Fox

Joel Fox

His father, Raymond Fox, from Denmead, has called for action to be taken against the shops that sold his son the lethal legal highs as he claims they knew that Joel was mentally ill.

The 65-year-old has spoken out after reading The News’ campaign Legal Highs: Only Lows, which is calling for a change in law and is raising awareness of the drugs’ devastating consequences.

Mr Fox said: ‘When Joel was found, he was turned over with a big smile on his face and he had seven empty packets in front of him.’

Mr Fox said his son, a former pupil at Warblington School in Havant, was diagnosed with psychosis in 1994 at St James’ Hospital in Portsmouth following a breakdown.

When Joel was found, he was turned over with a big smile on his face and he had seven empty packets in front of him

Father Raymond Fox

Since then, he spent time at Elmleigh, a mental health facility in Havant, and at Ravenswood House, in Knowle, but he was living in the community with carer supervision when he took the overdose. It is not known if it was accidental or not.

Mr Fox said Joel turned to legal highs to cope with his illness.

He said: ‘He could sometimes be very up the pole, shouting, but when he got like that with me I would walk off. It was the strength of his psychosis.

‘He was the nicest, sweetest lad 95 per cent of the time but he was mentally disabled and that was the sad part of it all – that they would sell legal highs to him knowing the state he was in.’

Mr Fox, an electrical fitter, said that although Joel’s carers were very good, they were too stretched and he wanted to see the tax made by the government from the sale of legal highs ploughed back into mental heath provision.

He also said he wanted to see a ‘Joel’s Law’ brought in that would prevent head shops from selling to people who were registered as being mentally ill.

Mr Fox added: ‘Whatever happens, in the end, it’s got to be managed properly.’

Police said they attended Joel’s flat on October 16 and a file is being prepared for the coroner.

Friends and family pay tribute to ‘lively’ lad at funeral service

Dozens of Joel Fox’s friends and relatives packed into a service to say a final goodbye to a ‘cheeky’ lad.

A moving service was held at The Oaks Crematorium in Havant on Tuesday afternoon.

Flowers were laid on top of his casket, while hymns were sung and prayers said.

The service was led by Father Jonathan Jeffries.

He said: ‘Joel was very lively, cheeky, perky and happy, especially as a child. He was brave, maybe foolhardy but definitely courageous.’

He told the congregation about good memories shared by Joel’s family on the Isle of Wight, at Stonehenge and in their granddad’s garden catching frogs.

Mourners entered the chapel to Space Oddity by David Bowie, paused for reflection to Bronx Poem by Dion and left to My Sweet Lord by George Harrison.

After the service, Joel’s friends and family paid tribute to him.

His twin brother, Greg Fox, said: ‘He had a lovely heart.’

Joel’s childhood friends, John ‘Spud’ Hall, 46 and Eddie Hall, 47, both spoke of the fun they had as teenagers.

John, from West Leigh, said: ‘He was a nice person.

‘He was really artistic, plus he used to drive me mad with Pink Floyd. He was definitely lively.

‘He was creative and loved music and he stood up for his friends.’

Eddie, also from West Leigh, said: ‘Joel stuck up for me. He really was courageous.’

Joel is survived by his two children Kayleigh, 23, and Michael, 24. He also leaves behind father Raymond Fox, 65, mother Jacquie Clements, 65, twin brother Greg, 45, and half-sister Jessica.