Coroner concerned at increase in heroin-related deaths in city

CORK’S city coroner expressed serious concerns yesterday about a dramatic rise in the number of heroin-related deaths in the city.

Before early 2006, details of just one heroin-related death had been heard in Cork Coroner’s Court in the previous 10 years.

But, speaking after an inquest yesterday into a heroin overdose, Dr Myra Cullinane said there had been five heroin-related inquests before her court in the last 18 months.

“And there are more pending,” she said.

“It is quite worrying that this drug is becoming more prevalent in this city which, until recently, had escaped this scourge.”

She said the sharp rise in heroin-related deaths coming before her court suggested a pattern of increased availability of the drug in Cork.

She was speaking after an inquest into the death of Anthony (Tony) Staunton, aged 27, from Castlebar in Co Mayo. Mr Staunton, who was a resident in Cork Simon’s emergency homeless shelter on Anderson’s Quay, died of a heroin overdose in his room just 10 days before last Christmas.

Dr Cullinane said her office would continue to cooperate with the gardaí and the various health agencies to inform the national drugs-related death index.

She also warned people about the dangers of so-called recreational drug use.

Her warning came just weeks after gardaí in Cork made their largest seizure of cocaine in the city.

Acting on information, drugs squad officers followed a man in his late 20s to an open area in the city’s Shanakiel area where they discovered a bag containing heroin with an estimated street value of €200,000.

Brian Wall of 43, Beech Trees Avenue, Shanakiel, was subsequently charged with possession of the drug, possession of heroin with the intent of sale or supply, and possession of heroin worth more than €13,000.

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