A scholarship-winning UCC student from Waterford, who was struggling while studying away from home, was found dead in his bedroom after taking a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs mixed with heroin.
An inquest into the death of Aidan Smith, aged 22, from Tramore, was told that he had overcome previous difficulties with prescription medication.
However, he struggled to cope during his time in college and had talked in the weeks before his death earlier this year of wanting to return to his hometown.
Aidan, who achieved 615 points in his Leaving Cert, won an Entrance Scholarship Award to UCC in 2013 where he was studying mathematical sciences.
He was living in rented student accommodation at Farranlea Rd, near Victoria Cross, Cork.
Jack Brown, who knew Aidan from growing up Tramore, told an inquest at Cork City Coroner’s Court he was worried about his friend last January and early February.
He told coroner Philip Comyn that Aidan’s housemates had discovered Aidan was using drugs and they had asked him to move out. He had agreed and was due to move out in February.
Mr Brown said while he had not seen Aidan for about three weeks before his death, they were in almost daily contact by text or social media, and Aidan had assured him he was fine.
However Mr Brown said while he had offered to meet Aidan on a few occasions, Aidan had come up with reasons why he couldn’t meet.
Mr Brown said he noticed a change in Aidan on Friday, February 9, when Aidan admitted in a text message that he was feeling stressed and a bit down.
The witness said he was worried about Aidan and that he had tried to contact him the following Sunday but that his messages were not being delivered.
Aidan’s mother, Nora Smith, told the inquest her son had been at home the week before his death and was seeking support, which included talking to a counsellor at UCC and visiting his GP. She said her son had told her that he planned to stay with Jack Brown on Saturday, February 10, and then planned to visit home on the Sunday for dinner.
However, he never showed up at home or at Mr Brown’s house. Mr Brown said he was contacted on the Monday by one of Aidan’s housemates to say that Aidan had been found dead, sitting in a chair in his bedroom.
It was apparent that he had been dead for some time.
Garda Kay Griffin said gardaí found drug paraphernalia at the scene, including spoons, needles, and a white powder.
She said the results of lab tests on the white powder are still awaited to confirm its nature and contents.
However, assistant state pathologist Margot Bolster said an autopsy confirmed lethal levels of benzodiazepine and heroin in Aidan’s system. Mr Comyn recorded a verdict of death by misadventure and stressed the dangers of taking illicit drugs.
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