Gardaí investigating teenager’s death await toxicology results

Officers believe Jack Downey (19) and friends sourced MDMA in south Tipperary

Gardaí investigating the death of a teenager from a suspected drugs overdose at a music festival last weekend say they are following a definite line of inquiry as to who may have supplied the drugs.

Detectives are focusing their attention on drug dealers in the south Tipperary area following the death of Jack Downey, from Ard Caoin in Clonmel.

Officers believe the 19-year-old and some friends obtained MDMA before travelling to the Indiependence Festival in Mitchelstown in Co Cork on Friday.

Mr Downey ingested a quantity of the drug at about 3pm and began to feel unwell in his tent before being brought by friends to the medical tent at the festival at approximately 4.30pm. A doctor was concerned about his condition and Mr Downey was taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital’s intensive care unit.

He was put on a ventilator and remained in a coma over the weekend as his parents, Johnny, a garda, and Elaine maintained a vigil at their only child’s bedside. But he was taken off the ventilator on Monday and died at about 4pm.

Investigation gardaí will be several weeks waiting for toxicology results on samples taken by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster during a postmortem on Tuesday. But they expect these will confirm that Mr Downey took MDMA and that this led to kidney failure, which the postmortem established was the cause of his death.


Gardaí reported a reduction drug detections at the three-day festival on Saturday and Sunday after the organisers posted a Friday warning on social media after Mr Downey took ill.

“Welfare Message – We have reports of a bad batch of something in the campsite, do not consume any substances that you are unsure about, it has the potential to make you very sick,” they tweeted.

Garda sources said there were more than 80 drug detections at the festival over the weekend with the vast majority of these being quantities valued at less than €100 and for personal use. There were four detections of drugs for sale or supply with the largest of these valued at some €1,000.

The vast majority of those caught with drugs were aged between 18 and 22 with MDMA, Ketamine and cannabis accounting for most of the seizures, said a Garda source.

Clonmel curate Fr Michael Toomey, who knew Mr Downey from his work as a chaplain at CBS High School, said the teenager's death had shocked his friends and peers deeply. He paid tribute to Jack's parents for their generosity in inviting many of Mr Downey's friends to the hospital to say their farewells.


“One of the good things that happened is that a lot of his friends went up to Cork University Hospital to see him before he died and they gathered together in the hospital chapel with his parents when he died,” said Fr Toomey.

He added: “Last night we had a Mass of remembrance for Jack at Clonmel Óg GAA club where he was very involved as a goalkeeper but also as a coach with some of the younger teams.”

Fr Toomey explained that the club had asked him to help Mr Downey’s teammates and friends and he met with them in one of the club’s dressingrooms.

“I gave them all a candle and told them to put whatever they want – a cross or a heart – in the dressingroom where he would have togged on, but they actually went in and spelled out his name, ‘Jack’ with candles,” he added.

“And there were people coming in and out for about an hour, just praying and being quiet and sharing stories and there was laughter and there were tears.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times