Tuesday 21 October 2014

Coroner in warning about 'super-ecstasy' following inquests

Gareth Naughton

Published 18/07/2014 | 16:11

The Coroner's Court in Dublin
The Coroner's Court in Dublin

The Dublin coroner has warned that PMA, an illegal amphetamine drug currently in circulation, is “far more unpredictable” than ecstasy.

Dr Brian Farrell was speaking during the second of two inquests heard at Dublin Coroner’s Court into the deaths of men who died in separate incidents having taken PMA over the June bank holiday weekend last year.

“The effects of PMA are far more unpredictable and variable between individuals than those of ecstasy, MDMA. Ecstasy is unpredictable. This is not ecstasy, it is another type of ecstasy which is even more unpredictable and variable in its effects and it has been associated with a number of deaths. We are really only beginning to record these deaths from this drug at the moment,” he said.

PMA (para-Methoxyamphetamine) is sometimes referred to as “Dr Death” or “super ecstasy”. It is an amphetamine with hallucinogenic properties and is being sold as ecstasy or is sometimes found in ecstasy tablets. It has been associated with more than 50 fatalities including a number of deaths in Ireland. Last month, the Ana Liffey Drug Project launched a campaign to highlight the dangers of PMA and PMMA (paramethoxymethaphetamine) for users.

Dr Farrell was speaking during the inquest of taxi-driver Desmond Mahon (51) who was found collapsed in the bedroom of his home at Cardiffsbridge Road in Finglas, Dublin 11, on the evening of June 3 last year. The court heard that he had been on an “alcohol and drug binge” in the hours before his death.

His friend Wayne Gaffney said that he went to the dead man’s home after work at 3am on the morning of June 3 and they started drinking together. Mr Mahon produced a wrapper of “green and white ecstasy pills”, he said, and they proceeded to take them while also drinking in the following hours. At 10.30pm, he woke up in the living room and went upstairs to check on Mr Mahon where he found him lying on the floor, naked and not moving. He had been dead for a number of hours. 

Gardaí seized a bag of green pills with an apple stamp and white pills with a Mitsubishi stamp from the house. Analysis at the state laboratory confirmed that they were PMA, not ecstasy, Dr Farrell said. At postmortem, the toxicology report found PMA and PMMA in Mr Mahon’s body at the time of death as well as a breakdown product of cocaine and stimulant benzylpiperazine. The cause of death was the toxic effects of the drugs.

Earlier the inquest of Keith Fullard (32) from McAuley Drive in Artane, Dublin 5, heard that he was found collapsed at the home of his friend Richard White in Killester on June 2, last year. He had spent the day drinking at his sister’s house before going to Mr White’s home. Mr White told the court that on the way to the house Mr Fullard was complaining of cramps in his legs. He and his girlfriend found the dead man collapsed in his bedroom after returning from going to the shop.

Mr Fullard was taken to Beaumont Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The toxicology report found a combination of ecstasy (MDMA), PMA, cocaine, sedatives and benzylpiperazine in his system. Death was due to multi-drug toxicity.

Dr Farrell returned verdicts of death by misadventure in both inquests.

Irish Independent

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