BEFORE he started taking legal highs, Thomas Shaw was a normal healthy 20-year-old, according to his mum.

But Karen Dickinson says since he started smoking herbal incense he never leaves his room, has been hospitalised several times and is currently taking anti-psychosis drugs after suffering a psychiatric breakdown.

Karen has been forced to empty Thomas’ bank account as every agency she has contacted to try to get Mega Bargains, in Bradshawgate, to stop selling the over-the-counter products is powerless to help. So she has launched a petition to try to get the shop shut down.

“My son was a normal, healthy 20-year-old and now he never leaves his room,” she told the Journal.

“We have had to pull him back from jumping out of his bedroom window because he was hearing voices.”

Thomas began taking legal highs, such as Genesis, which says on the packet that it is a research chemical and is not for human consumption, a year ago, and has been admitted three times to the Lakeside Unit at Leigh Infirmary since April.

Karen, of Clifford Street, Leigh, said: “I’ve contacted every agency and person I can think of but because the drug is legal and Thomas is aged over 18 there is nothing they can do.

“I want the shop to stop selling the drugs, but failing that, just for people to know how dangerous these things are.

“They have chemically damaged my son's brain cells and it could take up to 18 months for them to rejuvenate.”

A spokesman for Mega Bargains said: “We do not sell these products to anyone underage.

"We do have signs up relating to smoking paraphernalia which reads ‘all smoking hardware is intended for ornamental, tobacco or herbal use, we do not condone the use of illegal drugs’.

“We also do not let under-18s in the shop unless accompanied by parents. There are other shops in the area who also sell these products and we do get police and trading standards visiting us. "

“There are warning signs on herbal incense for it not to be smoked but the two biggest killers are alcohol and tobacco so if the woman in question has got a problem with people taking substances tell her to start with the biggest killers first.”

Karen’s petition is available to sign online. Go to and search for Karen Dickinson.