Court told blood alcohol levels ‘not a definitive diagnostic tool’

A STUDY found that alcohol levels in 100 people hospitalised in a heavily intoxicated state, all of whom survived, were far greater than those found in an Englishman who died after a night of drinking in a Co Tipperary hotel.

The findings were heard at the trial in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, of the bar manager of Hayes’s Hotel, Thurles, Gary Wright, aged 24 and barman, Aidan Doyle, aged 28, both of Kilfithmone, Borrisoleigh, who deny the manslaughter of Graham Parish, 26, who was found dead in an upstairs conference room at the hotel on July 1, 2008.

Mr Parish had been drinking heavily in the hotel bar the night before with friends, celebrating his 26th birthday.

It is the first case of its kind under a new liquor liability law.

Pathologist Dr Stephen Finn had earlier told the trial that death was due to acute alcohol poisoning and that Mr Parish’s blood showed an alcohol level of 375mgs per100ml.

Yesterday, another witness, poisons expert Dr Joseph Treacy said blood alcohol levels can go up or down in a person who has died, due to putrefaction.

Dr Treacy referred to a study of 100 people who presented to hospital casualty with alcohol levels of between 400mgs and 600mgs.

All survived, including those with the 600mgs level. He said 80% were conscious and talking when they arrived at casualty.

Dr Treacy said blood alcohol levels were not a definitive diagnostic tool.

Mr Parish, from Calder Terrace in Lomeshaye village near Nelson, East Lancashire, was found dead slumped in an upstairs conference room on July 1.

He had booked into the hotel on June 30, 2008, when he arrived in Thurles to carry out some work at the Dew Valley meat plant.

Mr Parish went to the bar at around 6.30pm. As the night went on, Mr Parish drank quicker and issued drink “racing challenges” to five friends who joined him. He downed pints of Guinness, some with vodka, in seconds.

Later, he issued another drink challenge: he would drink a half pint of spirits against others drinking a half pint of lager.

The group got a variety of spirits from the bar for Mr Parish, which more than half-filled a pint glass.

One member of the group, Simon Turner, said the spirits were put into a pint glass by bar staff who served the cocktail.

Shortly after drinking the large cocktail, Mr Parish fell off his stool.

The trial continues.

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