herald

Friday 28 November 2014

Art director died sniffing poppers during phone sex

A DUBLIN art director who worked on Oscar-nominated film Albert Nobbs died after inhaling 'poppers' while having phone sex with theatre director Michael Scott, an inquest has heard.

Darach Culhane-Nolan (33) died from an irregular heartbeat caused by the inhalation of the chemical amyl nitrate, more commonly known as poppers.

Mr Culhane-Nolan was on the phone to Michael Scott, cultural editor of Social And Personal magazine and artistic director at City Theatre Dublin, on the night of March 15 last year.

Mr Scott told the inquest that he met Mr Culhane-Nolan just 10 days before but that they had spent a lot of time together in the intervening period. On the night of his death, Mr Culhane-Nolan had been out drinking in Howth and when he returned home, he and Mr Scott spoke on the phone.

The prominent theatre director said the deceased told him he was about to inhale poppers but he asked him not to.

He then told Mr Scott that he had spilled some of the liquid into his nasal passage.

He heard Mr Culhane-Nolan make a choking noise followed by snoring.

He called back shortly after and when he received no answer, he assumed that Mr Culhane-Nolan had gone to sleep.

The deceased's mother Frances Kelly asked why he had not called a doctor when he had heard a choking noise. But Mr Scott replied that he had been "making love" to Mr Culhane-Nolan over the phone and that he had assumed that he had climaxed and, as a result, saw no cause for alarm.

Mr Culhane-Nolan was found the next day by his mother at his home on the Burrow Road, Sutton when she attempted to wake him.

She said that one of his eyes was open and his head was cold to the touch.

The emergency services attended the scene but Mr Culhane-Nolan had already been dead for at least 12 hours.

Gardai discovered a bottle labelled Xtreme Extra Strong Aroma -- a known brand of amyl nitrite. The bottle was two-thirds empty.

Amyl nitrite is known to increase the heart rate and can be used to enhance sexual pleasure. The post-mortem revealed that the deceased had a significant level of alcohol in his system.



VOLATILE

While there was no trace of the substance amyl nitrite, the court heard that the substance was volatile and would have evaporated by the time the autopsy was carried out.

The cause of death was recorded as cardiac dysrhythmia -- an irregular heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

clairemurphy@herald.ie

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