‘N-Bomb’ case shows risks of taking drugs, judge says

Three people on trial in Cork over the death of Alex Ryan (18) after ingesting hallucinogen

The risks that young people are taking by consuming potentially lethal drugs are alarming, a judge said on Wednesday.

Judge Gerard O'Brien was speaking at Cork Circuit Criminal Court after hearing evidence in the case of three people charged with drug offences following the death of a teenager after ingesting a hallucinogenic drug.

The three accused, Harry Clifton (29), Ruairi Maher (22) and Jessica O'Connor (20), were charged following an investigation into the death of Alex Ryan (18) in Cork earlier this year.

Mr Ryan, from Liscahane, Millstreet, Co Cork, died at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on January 23th, 2016, after ingesting a synthetic drug called 251 NBOMe, known as N-Bomb, at a house party on St Patrick's Terrace in Cork city on January 18th.

The judge had heard he and O’Connor had been among a group of 60 people at a party at Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork on January 15th, where alcohol, speed and ecstasy were consumed .

Some of the people at that event had continued to party over the weekend until January 18th.

Eight of these ended up at the house party on St Patrick’s Terrace on January 18th.

Six people at that party, including Mr Ryan and O’Connor, ended up at CUH after ingesting N-Bomb.

Five of them made a recovery, but Mr Ryan died after five days on life support.

“What is alarming is the level of disrespect that young people have for themselves and their own safety by taking drugs that are illicit and manufactured by criminals and think it’s okay because they are having a good time,” said the judge.

Guilty plea

Clifton had earlier pleaded guilty to four charges arising from Mr Ryan’s death, including possessing N-Bomb, possessing MDMA or ecstasy for sale or supply and possession of DMT and cannabis on January 19th.

Maher, of Ballycurrane, Thurles, Co Tipperary, pleaded guilty to conspiring with another to possess N-Bomb for the purpose of sale or supply in Cork city on January 19th.

O’Connor, of Rosebank House, Killarney, Co Kerry, pleaded guilty to possessing N-Bomb for supply to another in Cork city on January 18th.

Det Danny McEnery told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that gardaí began an investigation after the six people were taken to CUH.

He said they checked phone records, which led them to Clifton.

Gardaí searched his house and found half a gramme of N-Bomb, which Clifton told them was part of a batch which he thought was a less potent synthentic drug called 2CB, as well as 5.5gms of MDMA worth €550.

Gardaí established that Clifton had sold 12 trips of N-Bomb to Mr Maher on January 18th for €80 when he called to the flat with Ms O’Connor and Mr Ryan, and that Mr Maher then sold the trips on to others at the party.

The judge heard that Maher had met O’Connor on Tinder. While they were at the party on Oliver Plunkett Street, he had offered to try and source some drugs from Clifton.

Clifton has five previous convictions, including one for cultivation of opium poppies, while Maher has 11 previous convictions, including one for possession of drugs.

The judge heard that all three were deeply remorseful for what had happened.

The judge adjourned the matter until Friday and extended his sympathy to members of Mr Ryan’s family.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times