THE parents of an ‘exceptional’ teenager who died suddenly in his own home have spoken of their anguish.

Gifted student Patrick McMullen, who was planning on going to university and possibly Cambridge, collapsed and died on Saturday night after taking ecstasy while chatting with friends over the internet and celebrating the last weekend of the summer holidays.

When his friends realised something was wrong an ambulance was called to the address in Puddletown but nothing could be done to save the 17-year-old former Thomas Hardye student.

Devastated mum Collette said it was unknown whether he had taken too many tablets, taken a bad batch or suffered a reaction.

She said: “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.

“You read these horrible stories in the press and you don’t actually empathise because it’s too hard to think about if you were in their shoes.

“But actually it’s a million times worse than whatever you might think it would be.”

Patrick was the youngest of five siblings with three older brothers and an older sister.

She said like any other teenager he had taken a risk but unlike most the consequences had been tragic.

Mrs McMullen added that the support of family and friends had been helping them get through such a difficult time.

She said: “For us he was exceptional and I just think he packed so much into a short life.”

Patrick, who attended St Mary’s Middle School in Puddletown before going on to the Thomas Hardye School and then The Purbeck School, had just received his successful AS results that included an A in mathematics as well as Bs and Cs in his other four subjects.

As he entered his final year at The Purbeck School he had planned to apply for university with Cambridge and UCL (University College London) among his choices to study either mathematics or computer science.

Dad James said Patrick had a very close group of friends, many of whom appreciated his unique sense of humour.

He said: “He was very ironic, cynical and sarcastic and very funny.” James added that he was ‘proud’ of his son who was also a ‘very physically fit young man’ and had excelled in karate, reaching black belt level.

An inquest into Patrick’s death was opened at the coroner’s court in Bournemouth.

The court was told Patrick had taken drugs on the night of Saturday, August 31 and started feeling unwell.

The youngster, who was born in Wick in Scotland, became unresponsive and died shortly afterwards.

The cause of death is currently unascertained, with toxicological tests to be conducted. The inquest was adjourned until 2pm on October 23.

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