herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Deaths of three men within a week linked to 'Dr Death' drug

THREE men died last year after taking PMA, an illegal amphetamine drug, the coroner's court has heard.

Gerard Greene (29) from Woodland Court, Rush in north Dublin, died at Beaumont Hospital on June 10 last year having taken a combination of drugs including ecstasy and PMA.

His was the third time within a week that Dublin coroner Dr Brian Farrell has heard an inquest where a man has died after taking PMA.

All three deaths happened within the space of eight days starting on the June bank holiday last year.

Last week, during the inquest for a 51-year-old taxi driver who died on the June 3, 2013, having taken PMA which he may have thought was ecstasy, Dr Farrell warned that the drug is "far more unpredictable".

On the same day, another inquest heard that a 32-year-old man died after collapsing at his friend's house on June 2 last year.

All three men had a cocktail of drugs in their system including PMA, cocaine and the stimulant benzylpiperazine.

PMA has been referred to as super-ecstasy and is sometimes called 'Dr Death'. An amphetamine with hallucinogenic properties, it is being sold as ecstasy and has also been found in ecstasy tablets.

The growth in PMA's availability prompted the Ana Liffey Drug Project to launch a campaign last month highlighting the dangers of using the drug.

Mr Greene's inquest heard that the alarm was raised by his friend Barry Stapleton.

Mr Stapleton told gardai that he had called over to Woodland Court on June 10 and noticed that Mr Greene did not look well. Along with Mr Greene's girlfriend, who was in the bedroom, he called an ambulance.

PARAMEDICS

When paramedics arrived at the house, Mr Greene was unresponsive on the couch.

He had the deepest level of unconsciousness compatible with life and his temperature was high. Paramedics told gardai that they were told he had taken an "unknown quantity of drugs", the court heard.

He was taken to Beaumont Hospital at 2.30pm where his condition deteriorated.

His foster mother Antoinette Doyle said that when she arrived doctors told her his temperature was "very, very high" and he had had two heart attacks. He had a subsequent heart attack and died.

Dr Farrell said that at post-mortem the toxicology screen found MDMA (ecstasy), PMA, stimulants benzylpiperazine and phenethylamine, cocaine and sedatives present in his system at death.

The combination of MDMA and PMA "increases the risk of a serious toxic reaction", he said, and Mr Greene's high temperature suggests that the MDMA was "a significant factor".

Death was due to "drug toxicity from a multiplicity of drugs", he said. He returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

hnews@herald.ie

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