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Sunday 21 September 2014

Four young people who supplied drugs to two men who died avoid jail

Liam Coffey (22) and Michael Coleman (22) died at Kinsale house

Published 28/02/2014 | 15:31

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Michael Coleman

FOUR young people who unwittingly supplied a lethal drugs mix to two men who later died have avoided prison.

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Judge Donagh McDonagh warned that there was "no more eloquent statement" than the tragic Circuit Criminal Court case that drug dealing destroys lives.

The relatives of Liam Coffey (22) and Michael Coleman (22), both of whom died in Kinsale on September 10 2012 after ingesting the toxic drugs concoction, declined to comment after suspended prison sentences were handed to the four people who supplied them with the lethal drugs mix.

David McGrath (25) and John O’Dwyer (26), both of Roman Street Cork; Victoria McCormack (22) of O'Connell St., Cork and David Maguire (31) of Harley Woods, Togher, Cork all pleaded guilty before the Circuit Criminal Court to possessing the drug for sale or supply.

Judge McDonagh said all four had to be treated in the same manner and he imposed three year prison sentences which he agreed to suspend for five years.

Judge McDonagh suspended the sentences in light of their pleas, their remorse, their co-operation with gardai in removing the drugs batch from Cork streets and their previous good behaviour.

However, all four must now undergo urine testing at their own expense for the next five years.

The four admitted possessing a mixture of MDMA and PMMA at various locations in Cork city between September 7 and 10 2012.

Det Garda Jason Wallace said all four were links in a supply chain which saw the lethal powder being consumed by Mr Coffey and Mr Coleman.

The friends were both from Waterford and were found dead at Mr Coleman’s rented house at Abbey Lane in Kinsale on September 10.

Mr Coleman’s girlfriend, Ciara Drummey, had raised the alarm after the two men became sick after ingesting the toxic drugs mixture.

The two friends had been celebrating Mr Coleman’s first week in his new job at US pharmaceutical firm, Eli Lilly.

Mr Coffey had travelled to Kinsale for the celebration – and had stayed in the small terraced house which was only rented by Mr Coleman two weeks before his death.

There were initial fears that the deaths were the result of a contaminated new version of Ecstasy called ‘Mandy’ or ‘Dr Death’ and an unprecedented public health warning was issued.

Judge McDonagh praised the gardai for a successful operation to get the drugs batch off Cork streets within a matter of days.

It later emerged that the young men died from poly-drug ingestion or the combined effects of MDMA and PMMA.

The four defendants insisted to Gardai they did not know that the drugs mixture contained PMMA.

The drug is slower acting that MDMA but is extremely toxic.

PMMA – like the identical substance, PMMA – can cause respiratory problems, fatal body temperature spikes as well as multiple organ failure.

However, PMMA is at its most lethal when combined with other drugs and alcohol.

The deceased had contacted McGrath a week previously looking for 3g of powdered Ecstasy nicknamed ‘Mandy’.

McGrath was sharing a flat at the time in Roman Street in Cork with O’Dwyer.

He contacted McCormack who in turn asked Maguire to obtain some of the drug.

Maguire sold an ounce – roughly 28g - of the drug to McCormack for €1,100.

She then sold half an ounce - approximately 14g - to O’Dwyer for €700.

O’Dwyer sold 3g of the drug to McGrath for €240 and he sold it on for €240.

The going street rate for the drug at the time was €80 per gramme.

McGrath further sold 3g of cannabis resin to the deceased for €50.

Gardai said he was deeply shocked when he discovered that both young men had died.

McGrath, who is from Waterford, knew both deceased though he was not a close friend.

None of the other three knew the two deceased.

Gardai stressed that McGrath, O’Dwyer and McCormack all co-operated fully with their investigation.

Gardai said larger drug suppliers were not identified but they assisted in helping remove the drugs batch from the streets.

McGrath, O’Dwyer and McCormack have no previous convictions.

Maguire has two previous convictions.

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