Three face charges after tragic drug death at house party

Three people are facing criminal charges after it was confirmed a teenager died after taking the powerful psycho-stimulant drug N-Bomb at a house party in Cork City this year.

Nicole Ryan, the sister of Alex Ryan, sits in the Town Park of Millstreet and reflects on the memory of her brother on a chair made in his memory

Cork City Coroner’s court was told yesterday the DPP has directed that charges be brought against three individuals following the Garda investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Alex Ryan, 18, in January, days after he consumed the drug.

The three who now face charges were among several people arrested as part of a major Garda probe in the days immediately after the party. Quantities of drugs were also seized during the Garda operation.

The details emerged yesterday as Cork City coroner Philip Comyn opened and adjourned the inquest into Mr Ryan’s death, hearing evidence of identification and cause of death only.

Mr Ryan, from Millstreet, Co Cork, was among six people rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) on January 19 after taking what was believed at the time to have been a psycho-stimulant drug during a party at a rented house at St Patrick’s Terrace on Green St, on the southside of the city.

Alex Ryan who died after taking the psycho-stimulant drug N-Bomb at a house party in Cork City this year.

Eyewitnesses reported, at the time, party-goers were in extreme distress when they were found, with reports that some had slashed themselves with broken glass and that others were hallucinating widely.

While five of the party-goers aged between 18 and 37 recovered quickly after hospital treatment, Mr Ryan never regained consciousness and died in CUH several days later.

Dr Margot Bolster, the Assistant State pathologist, told Mr Comyn yesterday a postmortem examination had revealed Mr Ryan died from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy — lack of oxygen to the brain — due to cardiac arrest from ingestion of 4-iodo-2 5-dimethoxy-n-(2-methoxybenzyl)phenethylamine — or 251NBOMe — a psychedelic drug known on the streets as N-Bomb.

Mr Comyn noted the evidence and told Mr Ryan’s mother, Irena, and his sister, Nicole, that he was adjourning the inquest, pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings, for mention again in December.

N-Bomb is part of a family of drugs which are synthesised in backstreet chemists in Eastern Europe and the Far East, and which are prohibited under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2015.

Widely available online, and sold in tablet, powder, or liquid form, the drug produces intense hallucinogenic and psychedelic effects described as a cross between ecstasy and LSD.

Within hours of the six party-goers arriving at CUH, the HSE issued a public health warning about these kinds of drugs, and about the serious psychological and physical side effects.

They said there is no quality control on these kinds of drugs, there are problems with purity and contaminants, and there is no way of checking that what is purchased or consumed is the intended substance.

Mr Ryan’s sister, Nicole, who issued a powerful drugs warning to teenagers during her brother’s funeral Mass in Millstreet, has since gone on to launch a public drugs awareness campaign, and distributed warning posters to pubs and clubs across Cork City. She hopes to roll them out nationwide.

Aoife Fraser at the launch of a drugs awareness campaign by Nicole Ryan. Picture: Des Barry

Speaking after yesterday’s brief coroner’s hearing, she repeated her warnings.

“I would urge people to think twice about taking these kinds of drugs. You just don’t know what you’re getting,” she said.

Nicole said her family, which consented to organ donation after Alex’s death, draws some comfort from the fact his heart is beating inside someone else. She also revealed she wears a locket around her neck, containing her brother’s ashes.

During his funeral Mass, Nicole said: “We decided because all his organs were perfect they would not die with him — he would not die in vain. He had one chance to save someone else, to give a family who could understand our pain, and to give them that hope, that chance of a miracle.

“I can’t ever say that I saved somebody’s life, but Alex has saved four.

“That’s four families, four people that needed a miracle, and Alex was their miracle. His heart has never stopped beating. It still beats as we speak.”


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