A JUDGE called for greater awareness of a new killer drug as he jailed a man whose girlfriend died after supplying it to her at a party.

James Meaney was locked up for seven months for giving three paramethoxyamphetamine tablets to tragic teenager Nicole Tomlinson.

The pills - known as PMA, or 'Dr Death' or 'Killer' on the streets - have been linked to around 100 deaths in the last three years.

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Judge Tony Briggs - who admitted he had never heard of it - said: "The absolutely lethal effects of it ought to be more widely known."

Meaney thought he was buying Ecstasy when he got six pills for £35 at the party in Darlington in February 2012, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He took three and gave three to Miss Tomlinson, 19, who swallowed one after the other when she thought they were not giving her a high.

The court heard the tablets take longer to work than Ecstasy - even though they are up to ten times more potent - and lull people into having more.

Prosecutor Dan Cordey told Judge Briggs: "Users who take it believing it is Ecstasy are at increased risk of overdose."

The judge said: "The danger needing to be emphasised is people think it's not working and take more, and the dose is doubled or trebled."

Meaney, of Headlam Road, in the Eastbourne area of Darlington, pleaded guilty to a charge of supplying Class A drugs when he was due to face a trial last month.

But in an earlier defence statement, which would have been used had he not admitted it - he claimed his teenage girlfriend had given him them.

His barrister, Martin Towers, described the case as "immensely sad and distressing" and said Meaney was also a victim - losing his partner.

The young couple had been together for five years and had a two-year-old son at the time of the tragedy, the court was told.

Mr Towers said a probation officer told of "positive changes in lifestyle, decision-making and attitude" in a report he had written.

"It is a different man who is being sentenced today than it would have been had he been sentenced in the aftermath of these events," he said.

"The defendant was only 20 at the time, so ten per cent of his life lies between that awful day and his day of reckoning today."

After the case, Detective Constable Neil Stannard branded Meaney a coward for claiming Miss Tomlinson had given him the drugs.

Throughout his interviews with police, Meaney admitted buying the super-strength pills and supplying them to his girlfriend.

Yet, when he reached court, the jobless 22-year-old "changed his story 100 per cent", Det Con Stannard said last night.

It was not until he was on the brink of a trial - and a potential jail sentence - that Meaney accepted his clear involvement.

"It was a cowardly act to blame someone who could not answer back," said the detective. "Thankfully, he finally saw sense.

"It is clear he did not intend for Nicole to die - they are the tragic consequences which often associate with drug taking.

"What we can say though, is if she had never been in a relationship with Meaney, the chances are she'd still be alive today.

"People should be aware that this drug is on the streets, and they should be aware of its potentially-fatal consequences."