The investigation took place against the background of 18-year-old Alex Ryan’s death after he sniffed the synthetic drug at a party in Greenmount, Cork, at the beginning of this year.
Three people face sentencing on different drugs charges in the case.
In Cork Circuit Criminal Court Judge Gerard O’Brien said: “What is alarming is the level of disrespect young people have for themselves in taking drugs manufactured by criminals. People think it is OK to do it because they are having a good time.”
Donal McCarthy, who represented one of the three accused, said in relation to the nature and potency of the drug: “None of the three people knew what they were getting.”
Detective Garda Daniel McEnery said the investigation commenced following the admission of several young people to hospital after they had taken a drug at a party in Greenmount. Most of the people at the party were students aged around 20. One of those young people was Alex Ryan, and he died in hospital after ingesting the drug nasally.
Investigations brought drugs squad officers to the door of Harry Clifton, aged 29, at 11 St Finbarr’s Place, Proby’s Quay, Cork, as their information was that the drug had been sourced from Clifton.
Clifton had supplied 12 ‘trips’ of the drug to Ruairí Maher, aged 22, of 12 Ballycurrane, Thurles, Co Tipperary. The 12 doses were sold to him for a total of €80.
Maher had been contacted via dating website Tinder that night by Jessica O’Connor, aged 20, of Rosebank House, Ballyhar, Killarney, Co Kerry.
She had been at a weekend-long party with friends and they had decided to get their hands on some kind of hallucinogenic drug. Maher told her he could get her 12 trips for €120, making a €40 profit by the transaction.
Through these channels the drug was brought to the party in Greenmount. Tom Creed, defending Clifton, said his client had warned Maher that it was strong and that nobody should take more than one dose. However, there was evidence that some people took two doses.
Mr Creed said Clifton had taken somewhat more than the single dose before with no adverse effect.
“I would ask you not to lay the consequences for Mr Ryan at the door of Mr Clifton and ask the court to look at it simply as a section 15 [drug supply case],” Mr Creed said.
Detective Garda McEnery said Clifton was not a drug addict and his motivation was profit. He had previous convictions for drug possession and cultivation.
Maher had previous convictions too, including one for simple drug possession.
Mr McCarthy, defending Maher, said he was very remorseful and wishes it had not happened and still cannot believe that it did happen. Mr McCarthy said it was Maher who phoned the gardaí when people began to fall ill at the party.
Siobhán Lankford, defending O’Connor, suggested that Jessica O’Connor had the least involvement and had no previous convictions of any kind. She said her parents had taken a very serious view of the case and had brought her home to Kerry, ending her architecture degree in Cork in her third year. She took up a job in a supermarket and has since embarked on another course in Tralee Institute of Technology. She described the young woman as naive.
Ms Lankford said there was no question of monetary gain by O’Connor and that she was representing a number of young people at the party who wanted to get an hallucinogen.
A number of different chemical and street names were given for the drug but Det Garda McEnery told Pearse Sreenan, prosecuting, the drug in question was commonly called N-bomb.
Apart from this drug being taken, there was evidence of people attending the party in Greenmount taking huge quantities of alcohol, including wine, spirits, and tequila, also that weekend, to the extent that €2,500 worth of damage was caused to the house. Ms Lankford said O’Connor had paid for half of the damage done as a gesture of her sincerity.
Judge O’Brien said he would sentence the three accused tomorrow.
Clifton pleaded guilty to having N-bomb for the purpose of supply. Clifton also admitted having MDMA for supply. He admitted simple possession of two other drugs namely cannabis and DMT.
Maher admitted conspiring with another to possess a controlled drug for the purpose of sale or supply, namely N-bomb.
O’Connor admitted having N-bomb for the purpose of sale or supply.
Alex Ryan, 18, from Liscahane, Millstreet, Co Cork, died on January 23. Cork Coroner’s Court heard that the teenager died after consuming the synthetic drug N-bomb.
Mr Ryan had been on a life support machine at Cork University Hospital after becoming ill at the house party at St Patrick’s Terrace on Green Street in Greenmount, Cork city.
There is no reference to the late Mr Ryan in any of the charges faced by Clifton, Maher, and O’Connor.