Multiple drugs caused man's death

Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 00:00

Heroin taken by a man who was found to have died from polydrug ingestion in Cork last October was found to be of usual concentration levels and not part of any "bad" batch, an inquest into the man’s death heard yesterday.

Sgt Fergus Twomey told Cork Coroner's Court that the samples of heroin taken from needles used by Gary O’Sullivan (30) were tested at the State Laboratory and found to be in line with usual concentrations found in the drug.

Mr O’Sullivan and another man died at separate locations in Cork within days of each other in October and it was feared at the time that a bad batch of heroin may have been circulating in Cork, resulting in the Health Service Executive issuing a warning to all heroin users in the city.

Yesterday, Dr Margaret Bolster told the inquest into Mr O’Sullivan’s death that he died from polydrug use due to an overdose of the sedative Diazepam associated with ingestion of another sedative, chlorodiazepoxide, and heroin.

Blood samples taken showed Mr O’Sullivan had a concentration level of 4.9 microgrammes of diazepam as well as 0.21 microgrammes of morphine and lower levels of chlorodiazepoxide, all per 1 millilitre of blood, along with 31 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Dr Bolster said the high level of diazepam, which was just below the lethal range of 5 microgrammes per millilitre together with the morphine, which was in the toxic-to-lethal range, along with the chlorodiazepoxide, left him at serious risk.

Dr Bolster also noted that Mr O’Shea had been in hospital for a short period up until he took the drugs on October 4th and he would have lost his tolerance for such dosages of substances - which then put him at even more risk when taking them in such concentrations.

The combined effect of all three drugs, the diazepam, heroin and chlorodiazepoxide, was to depress the central nervous system and the respiratory system so that he would have felt little when he slipped into unconsciousness soon after taking the drugs, she said.

Witness Cathal Fleming told how he had been drinking with Mr O’Sullivan on the day in question and went back to Mr O’Sullivan’s flat at Vespa Terrace, Old Blackrock Road, where Mr O’Shea took two blue tablets before injecting himself with heroin.

He said he looked over to discover Mr O’Sullivan slumped on the sofa, and when he tried to rouse him he failed so he called the emergency services who performed CPR on him. They were unable to resuscitate him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The inquest heard Mr O’Sullivan was under a lot of stress following the death of his partner some months before due to a drug overdose and had been treated at the psychiatric unit at Cork University Hospital for a number of days in late September just before his death.

He was waiting for a place in a residential treatment centre in Bruree in Co Limerick but had been told there was a six-week waiting list and to check on a daily basis in case a place became available, the inquest heard. A verdict of death by misadventure was returned.