Coroner expresses concern at abuse of sleeping tablets

A 51 year old man who took a lethal dose of sleep medication drowned in the Royal Canal, an inquest heard. 

 Joe Dignam of Poddle Close, Crumlin, Dublin 22 had double the lethal dose of the sleep medication zopiclone in his system when he died.

The father of two was found in the canal near Clarke’s Bridge, Ballybough on May 31 2015.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard that passerby Patricia Walsh was walking her dog when she spotted his body in the canal.

“I saw what I thought were two pieces of paper but actually it was a man’s hands,” she said.

She called Gardai at 8.45am and they arrived ten minutes later.

Gerry Wood of Dublin Fire Brigade said it was clear the man had been dead for some time. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy report found he had a high dose of zopiclone in his system, almost twice the lethal level. Blood tests revealed evidence of xanax, methadone, codeine and morphine in his system. The cause of death was drowning.

Returning an open verdict, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said although zopiclone is prescribed for sleeping ‘it can be abused and the level here is very high.’

“The most likely thing is that he lost his balance because he would have been under the influence of those medications at that time and was unable to help himself,” Dr Cullinane said.


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