Toxic cocktail killed Armagh man

A party which lasted for days ended in tragedy after a man took the former legal-high drug mephedrone, an inquest has heard.

Wayne Brown, 31, was found unresponsive on the floor of a bedroom in Bessbrook, south Armagh at the end of last year.

The steel erector was socialising with friends until the cocktail of illicit substances caused heart failure.

Mephedrone was banned in 2010 because a number of deaths were linked to it.

Stuart Edmonds battled to save his friend’s life when he discovered him unconscious.

He told the Belfast inquest: “His hand was shaking and both hands were raised. His head was tilted back and his eyes were open but there was no breathing.”

Mr Brown, from Lisnalee Park in Mountnorris, had a history of substance abuse, such as using ecstasy, acid and speed. He was taking tablets and white powder diluted in hot water.

A post-mortem examination found that death was from drug toxicity.

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Alastair Bentley found evidence of mephedrone, indicating possible excessive consumption or high recreational use. He also detected use of similar recreational drugs BZP and TFMPP.

Mephedrone was a legal high which could be purchased in so-called head shops or via the internet. The user experiences similar effects to cocaine and amphetamine. It is a plant food-type substance which has become popular as a designer drug.

The importation of mephedrone to the UK has been banned. It became controlled as a class B drug on April 16 2010 following concerns raised about deaths linked to it.

In August 2010 a coroner confirmed the first death from mephedrone in Northern Ireland.

Possession can result in five years in jail. Supplying someone else can bring a sentence of up to 14 years and an unlimited fine.

Deborah Smith, a former partner of Mr Brown, went to the house in Doire Ard High Street in Derrymore the previous day after being invited round by him. The house belonged to the partner of Mr Brown’s brother Neil.

She took around four unidentified small pills and some of the powder dissolved in water, known as blizzards.

“I was spaced out and disorientated, I have never taken these things before,” she said.

“I was just so confused, it all merged into one. I felt happy and in a good mood.”

She lay on the bed chatting with Mr Brown, talking about his children, she told the inquest. Then he got off the bed and said he was going to the toilet.

“The last thing that he said was that he was very warm,” she said.

Ms Smith said she fell asleep and the next thing she can remember was people in the room and shouting.

Mr Edmonds and his girlfriend, Christine McCoy, visited the house and decided to check on Mr Brown.

They discovered him lying unconscious on the floor beside the bed partially clothed and called emergency services.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson recorded that the victim died from mixed drug toxicity.

“This case highlights the very grave dangers of consuming illicit drugs and we have seen a family left devastated as a result,” she said.

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