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Sunday 21 September 2014

Olivia (29) collapsed and died after taking ecstasy and cocaine

Gareth Naughton

Published 18/08/2014 | 15:47

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Olivia Beirne RIP
Olivia Beirne

A YOUNG woman who suddenly collapsed in a Dublin pub had taken ecstasy and cocaine, an inquest heard.

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Olivia Beirne (29) from Glenville Road in Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, died at St James's Hospital on July 2 last year, three days after she suffered a cardiac event at Hogan’s on George's Street in the south city centre.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that she was drinking with friends at the pub at around 9pm on Sunday, June 30 when she collapsed. Witness Lynnette Cullen told the court that they were “having a laugh” when the incident happened.

“Olivia sat back down in her chair laughing and just fell onto the ground. I jumped up and went to her. We put her into the recovery position and shouted at bar staff to call an ambulance… I checked for a pulse but couldn’t find one,” she said.

Hogan’s bar manager Ian Gleeson assisted Ms Cullen in performing CPR until paramedics arrived at the scene. CPR continued and Ms Beirne was taken to St James's Hospital with spontaneous circulation re-established. However, she never regained consciousness and died on the afternoon of July 2 as a result of multi-organ failure.

The inquest heard from her friend Lesley McSweeney that she saw Ms Beirne taking MDMA – or ecstasy – in powder form earlier on the day of her collapse. She had also taken some cocaine that day and on the previous night. “The weekend was Gay Pride weekend and a busy social weekend. We would never take drugs that regularly or that amount,” she said.

Ms Beirne’s father Oliver Beirne said the family had been “taken by surprise" to hear that drugs where involved in her death. She had always been “very much against” drug use, he said. Ms Cullen said that she did not see Ms Beirne taking drugs that day and had never seen her take any.

At post-mortem the cause of death was given as multi-organ failure due to the effects of multi-drug toxicity. Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that the drugs had passed through Ms Beirne’s system by the time she died, however, a toxicology screen of a blood sample taken on admission to hospital showed that she had taken MDMA – or ecstasy – and cocaine. There was a "high level" of alcohol present as well. The evidence before the court suggested that Ms Beirne had suffered ventricular fibrillation – a rapid heartbeat – leading to a cardiac event, he told the family. “Ecstasy is notorious for having unpredictable effects, some of which can be fatal,” he said.

He returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

Following the inquest Mr Beirne thanked Ms Cullen and Mr Gleeson for their quick actions on the day. “They agonised for weeks about whether they had done enough for her. I cannot thank them enough – they contributed to the two days that we had to prepare for the worst,” he said.

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