‘N bomb’ case: Sentences ‘an insult’ to drug victim’s memory

Sister of Alex Ryan aims to continue visiting schools to highlight dangers of drug use

Nicole Ryan has described as "an insult" to her brother the sentences given to three accused for drug offences following an investigation into his death.

Alex Ryan (18) died at Cork University Hospital five days after taking the designer 'N bomb' drug at a house party in Greemount in Co Cork on January 18th.

Harry Clifton of Proby's Quay, Cork, was jailed for six months as the balance of a two year term was suspended and Ruairí Maher of Thurles, Co Tipperary and Jessica O'Connor of Killarney, Co Kerry, received two-year suspended sentences.

Speaking outside Cork Circuit Criminal Court after the sentencing, Ms Ryan said the law "favours the accused" and the message the sentence sent out was "you can do as you please and it holds no consequences".

“Alex bears most responsibility for what happened but he has paid his price – he has died. They pay nothing. I am aware he chose to take the drugs but he was also 18, naive and uneducated . . . young people do have disregard but the people who sell these things do have to be held accountable.

She said she did not think they were remorseful. “They sat there laughing in court and now they are laughing at us,” she said.

“There is no remorse from them. They sit there and pretend they are remorseful. They are only remorseful because they got caught .”

Ms Ryan said the picture that was painted of her brother during the court proceedings, suggesting that he was drinking and taking drugs all weekend, was not correct. She and her mother, Irina, had been in contact with him over the weekend and he had been fine, she said.

Generous and brave

“Alex wasn’t a bad person, he was a wonderful person. He saved people’s lives, people he didn’t know. He once stopped a man jumping off the side of a bridge in Cork city, he performed CPR on one of his friends another time and he was giving – even in death when we gave away his organs.

“The only thing that matters are the people who knew him and knew what he was like. Theirs are the opinions that matter, but it was tough to sit there and watch them [the accused] laugh as if his death meant nothing . . . It’s horrible for us as a family; we have nothing.”

Ms Ryan said she plans to continue visiting schools to tell Alex’s story and to warn young people about the dangers of drug taking as she fears other families may suffer the same as she and her mother have suffered, losing a loved one to drugs.

“I go to schools to educate people about their behaviour and share my story with them. It’s sad to think I have to do this and that the Government aren’t backing me or doing anything in any way, but somebody has to do it and somebody has teach people that this happens every day.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times