Coroner echoes sister's plea for improved education on drugs at Alex Ryan inquest

A more structured approach to educating young people about drugs involving set programmes in schools needs to be introduced, a coroner urged yesterday at the inquest of an 18-year-old boy who died after he took the drug known as N Bomb, writes Olivia Kelleher.

Alex Ryan, of Liscahane in Millstreet, Co Cork, died on January 23, 2016, after consuming a synthetic drug of the 2C family called 251 NBOMe, or NBomb.

Mr Ryan was on a life support machine at Cork University Hospital (CUH) after taking ill at a house party at St Patrick’s Terrace on Green Street in Greenmount, Cork City.

Nicole Ryan.

Three people were charged and received sentences in relation to his death.

Cork City Coroner Philip Comyn said the HSE, gardaí and those who have personal experience of the dangers of drug-taking need to work together to educate young people about the perils of illegal substances: “Some schools do have such programmes but it’s very much up to the individual schools and the individual teachers. I would be recommending a much more structured approach in schools as well as at third-level where students unions might become more involved.”

Mr Comyn said that of the 46 inquests held this year almost 37% relate to people whose deaths were caused by or contributed to by drugs, including alcohol.

Alex Ryan.

Meanwhile, assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster, told the inquest that Alex Ryan died of global brain damage due to cardiac arrest after he ingested 251N Bomb at a house party on Jan 19, 2016. Dr Bolster said taking drugs like 251 N Bomb or CP2, which Mr Ryan thought he was taking, amounts to “Russian roulette” as there is no quality control on such street drugs.

Detective Sargent Jason Lynch told the inquest that synthetic drugs are often bulked with agents such as rat poison and Ajax cement cleaner.

Siobhan Talbot, 20, said she took the same drug as Alex, believing it was 2CP. She was found dancing naked in the house by gardaí and paramedics and said the drug gave her the best ever hallucinogenic experience: “The visuals were very strong and at one point, I thought it was crazy but not bad crazy, it was so strong but in a good way. We were all tripping. It was my best experience of hallucinogens.”

Alex and Nicole as children.

The inquest heard that gardaí arrived at the scene and found Mark Naundorf, 19, naked on the street. Mr Naundorf was bleeding as he had smashed a mirror and danced on the broken glass after taking two tabs of N Bomb, thinking it was 2CP.

A verdict of misadventure was recorded. Mr Comyn offered his condolences to Alex’s family and praised their generosity in donating the young man’s organs to save four other lives.

Alex's sister Nicole Ryan said the HSE needs to “start stepping up” in relation to educating young people about drugs.

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