Tuesday 22 August 2017

Death of talented teen footballer (16) from 'cocaine-like' designer drug is first recorded in Ireland

HSE issued warning about drug after Michael Cornacchia's sudden death

Michael Cornacchia who died in Cork
Pic from Provision
Michael Cornacchia who died in Cork Pic from Provision
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A talented teenage football player died from a lethal designer drug which can be mistakenly confused with cocaine.

The inquest into the death of Cork teen Michael Cornacchia (16) was adjourned after his cause of death was outlined as due to a combination of the designer drug U-47700 and Ecstasy.

Detective Inspector Declan O'Sullivan applied for the adjournment as the Garda investigation is still ongoing.

Two people have been arrested by Gardaí in connection with the probe and a file is currently being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Cork Coroner Philip Comyn was told the Deerpark teen died after he was discovered unconscious in his home by his shocked mother.

The youngster was pronounced dead on January 16 last.

A skilled footballer with Kilreen Celtic, the progress of the youngster was being monitored by a number of bigger clubs.

Mr Comyn was told by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster the youngster died from the ingestion of a combination of U-47700 and Ecstasy.

The designer drug, better known by its street name of U4, comes in a white powder form and is a synthetic opioid.

It is sometimes confused with cocaine - despite the fact it ranks as one of the most lethal designer drugs known.

More than 50 people have died in ten states in the United States from suspected U4 use - and it was one of the cocktail of drugs found in the system of pop star Prince (57).

It is deadly because of its powerful impact on the respiratory system.

The death of Mr Cornacchia is understood to be the first recorded death in Ireland due to U4.

Within hours of the death of Mr Cornacchia last January, the Health Service Executive (HSE) issued a public warning about the dangers of U-47700.

“We wish to highlight a white powder called U-47700 which may be in circulation. It may be in the form of a white powder and sold as cocaine," a spokesperson said.

“We are aware substances sold as cocaine may in fact contain other substances such as synthetic opioids. There is no way of telling what is in a powder or pill just by looking at it. It may look like the drug you want to purchase but it may well be something else.”

Last February, Mr Comyn issued a stark warning about Ireland's urgent need to overhaul drug education in schools.

He revealed one-in-three inquests held this year involved deaths connected to drugs or alcohol.

At that inquest, the sister of a teenager who died from a lethal synthetic party drug nicknamed N Bomb pleaded with youngsters to say 'No' to drugs.

Nicole Ryan's brother, Alex (18), died after taking the deadly psychedelic drug, NBomb, which had been sourced by another party from a supplier in Thailand via the DarkWeb.

"Young people need to realise that they are playing Russian roulette with their lives when they take drugs," she said.

"Alex could have been anyone's brother, son or partner - it is not a question of 'if' someone else will die from drugs in Ireland, it is only a question of when."

Nicole has now devoted herself to speaking in schools to warn youngsters about the dangers of drugs.

Mr Ryan died after ingesting the lethal synthetic party drug on January 18 2016.

A number of people had to be hospitalised after the party at which he lost his life.

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