Suppliers of lethal drug mixture get suspended sentences

Two young men died in Co Cork after ingesting toxic combination of MDMA and PMMA

Four people involved in the supply of a lethal concoction of drugs to two young men who later died after ingesting the ecstasy type mixture have each been given three year suspended sentences.

David McGrath (25) and John O'Dwyer (26), both with addresses at Roman Street in Cork, Victoria McCormack (22) from O'Connell Street in Cork and David Maguire (31) from Harley Court, Togher, Cork, had all pleaded guilty to possessing the drug for sale or supply.

All four had been remanded in custody for sentence until today on charges of possessing the mixture of MDMA and PMMA for sale or supply at different locations in Cork city on various dates between September 7th and September 10th 2012.

Today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Donagh McDonagh said that the case had resulted from the untimely deaths of two young men, Liam Coffey (22) and Michael Coleman (22) from Waterford who died after ingesting the MDMA/PMMA combination.


Both young men were pronounced dead by a local GP at Mr Coleman's rented house at Abbey Lane in Kinsale, Co Cork on September 10th, 2012 after the GP, paramedics and gardai had been alerted by Mr Coleman's girlfriend Ciara Drummey.

Judge McDonagh noted evidence from Det Garda Jason Wallace that the deceased had contacted McGrath a week earlier to source some powdered escstasy known on the street as Mandy and McGrath had in turn asked his flatmate, O'Dwyer to get some of the drug

O’Dwyer then contacted McCormack who in turn contacted Maguire and he sold an ounce - approximately 28gms - of the drug to McCormack for €1,100 and she in turn sold a half ounce of the drug - approximately 14gms - to O’Dwyer for €700.

O’Dwyer then sold 3 grammes of the drug to McGrath for €240 and he in turn sold it to the deceased for €240 in line with a street value of €80 a gramme, said Det Garda Wallace, adding none of the accused knew the drug contained the slower acting but highly toxic PMMA but thought it was solely MDMA.

Judge McDonagh commmented: “In the event, this cocktail turned out to be a lethal toxic combination ....the authorities quickly realised they were dealing with a drug combination which was out of the ordinary by any standards.”.

He noted that all four were quickly identified as links in the supply chain by gardai and they co-operated with gardai and while the roles of each of the four accused might not be equal in the supply chain, he believed it would be wrong to distinguish between them in sentencing.

He noted that three of the four had no previous convictions for drug dealing, Maguire being the exception with two previous convictions, and he accepted that all four had been profoundly affected by the tragedy and had expressed their regret and remorse for it.

“But society must express its abhorrence of crimes of this nature. There can be no more eloquent statement than this case that drugs destroy lives, tragically. Without dealers and suppliers, there can be no users. One depends on the other,” he said.

Judge McDonagh said that he believed the appropriate sentence was one of three years but on foot of their guilty pleas and steps taken to address their own drug abuse issues, he suspended the three year term for a period of five years on a number of conditions.

These included that all four give urine samples every three months for the five years to show that they are drug free and that they bear the cost of these tests themselves, said Judge McDonagh who praised Det Garda Wallace for his even handed presentation of evidence.

“It is probabably of cold comfort but I think I should express the court’s sympathies to the families of the two unfortunate misguided victims of these crimes,” added Judge McDonagh amid emotional scenes from the families of the accused.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times