A MOTHER has spoken of her horror after her four-year-old was pricked by used drug needles in a play park.

Riley Ashton now needs monthly injections and an agonising three-month wait to find out if he has contracted Hepatitis B after being left bleeding when he picked up the needles in a playground in Loftus, east Cleveland, last week.

He was playing in the play area on Tees Street with his friend Callum, six, when he found four discarded needles.

Loading article content

He ran up to his mother clutching the needles, and she saw he had cut his thumb on one of them.

Riley was rushed to James Cook Hospital for treatment and is now facing the three-month ordeal to find out if he has contracted Hepatitis, which one of the local drug users is known to have.

Ms Ashton, who is making the story public to try to force change, said: “Riley ran over to me saying, ‘Mummy, look at these stabby needles’ and I screamed when I saw him bleeding. “We went straight to James Cook and now Riley needs monthly injections as we know a local addict has Hepatitis. We won’t find out whether he’s got it or not for three months. “I don’t feel Riley’s safe at the park, even with me there, and I know other mums feel the same.

“If there’d been speed or whatever left on that needle it would have killed Riley, there’s no way his body could have handled that.”

When Ms Ashton searched the park, she found a discarded handbag filled with dozens of used needles hanging on a tree where children play house. This has been handed to police.

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, has now demanded urgent action from the police and local council after meeting the family on Friday and going to see the play area himself.

He has demanded action from the chief executive of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Amanda Skelton, and Chief Constable Iain Spittal, of Cleveland Police.

He said: “Paige is rightly beside herself about what has happened to Riley. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and I share her deep anger. “Straight after our meeting I called the Chief Executive of the Council to demand this play area is inspected by staff on a very regular basis to remove any needles, which she agreed to. They’ll also cut out the shrubbery where the worst of the abuse takes place.

“I’ve written to the Chief Constable to say there should be an increase in the police presence in the town – and where possible, action taken against those who are putting the public at risk with their disgusting habit. These people need to know they can’t act with impunity any more.

“Riley’s story crystallises how serious the issue has become. At a town hall meeting held by the Rosecroft Action Group in August used needles were a major concern expressed to me by residents and in a couple of weeks I’ve got a multi-agency meeting with representatives from the police, council, needle exchanges and residents’ groups to discuss how we tackle this problem for the long term.”