AT 10.12am on a Sunday morning in 2007, Kieron Ducie and Ann Corcoran came crashing into Navan General Hospital with a seriously ill young woman. She was the model Katy French, famous for her vivacious publicity stunts and unashamed love of bling. Now she was unconscious at the door of a provincial hospital, her life at risk.
As a medical team worked to save her, a senior nurse turned her attention to the couple who had brought her in. Had Katy taken anything, she wanted to know. Had she taken cocaine? Ducie said that Katy had passed the night at his house in Kilmessan with his girlfriend, Ann, where they drank two bottles of champagne.
The nurse later told detectives that Ducie did most of the talking. She found this strange, as he had not actually been at home for most of the night.
He told the nurse he did not arrive home until 6am. So the nurse directed her questions to Ann, who had actually been with Katy all night. Had Katy taken anything? Ann replied that she hadn't seen Katy take anything, but she had been to the bathroom several times.
By now, Katy was clinically brain dead, the oxygen to her brain cut off by seizure, which doctors suspected was caused by drugs. It was vital to find out what she had taken. The consultant anaesthetist left Katy's bedside to join the nurse in questioning the couple. Had she taken anything? Ann repeated that Katy had not taken anything in front of her, but had been to the bathroom a lot.
They asked if Katy had a handbag with her, in the hope that they might find clues in it as to what she had taken. Neither of them answered immediately. So the nurse suggested that she could ask gardai to drive to Kieron's house to look for it. He had already said he had been drinking. The nurse was then told that Katy's handbag was in the 4x4 outside.
The nurse went with Ann to fetch it – a black Fendi handbag was on the floor. But the only drugs it contained were Katy's prescribed antibiotics for a kidney infection. The nurse stressed again how important it was that they find out what Katy had taken. Ann repeated that she hadn't seen her take anything. All the medical team could glean from the pair of them was that Katy had taken drugs in the past.
Kieron Ducie and Ann Corcoran stayed at the hospital until Katy's mother arrived. Five days later, Katy French passed away in the arms of her sister, Jill, and her parents, Janet and John, days after her 24th birthday.
An autopsy would later reveal that she died of brain damage caused by ingestion of cocaine. There was hardly any alcohol in her system. Ducie and his girlfriend's display of dumb ignorance for the medical team battling to save her life was a sham.
They not only knew that the young model had taken cocaine, but had ordered the drug for her through one of Ducie's contacts. They lied about what happened until they could no longer deny the mounting evidence gathered against them in the garda investigation.
Last week, Kieron Ducie and Ann Corcoran received suspended jail sentences after they pleaded guilty at Trim Circuit Court to helping to procure the cocaine that caused the death of Katy French. Ducie was sentenced to two-and-a-half years and Corcoran to two, both sentences suspended on €200 bonds.
The day after Katy was admitted, her father rang gardai and asked them to investigate the circumstances in which she was brought to hospital. A day or so later, detectives caught up with Kieron Ducie at his home in Kilmessan, Co Meath.
He welcomed them in and spun them a yarn about how Katy had rung him the night before she collapsed. She was upset about various things, he claimed, including how several models did not turn up at her birthday party. He said Katy wanted to spend a girly night in with his girlfriend, Ann Corcoran, in Kilmessan. He stayed out on the town in Dublin, in Cocoon Bar, then in Lillie's nightclub, and then went to an apartment in Swords. He claimed he got home at 6.30am, found the girls still up drinking and sat down to join them. They chatted for an hour-and-a-half or so and then retired, having talked Katy out of driving home. Ann put her to bed in the spare room downstairs, taking off her shoes and pulling a blanket over her.
It was now, by Ducie's account, around 8am or 8.15am. Fifteen minutes later he heard a thud downstairs, found Katy lying face down on the floor, "bouncing off the ground", her limbs rigid, her eyes bulging and foaming at the mouth. Ann wanted to ring an ambulance but he said it would be quicker to drive to hospital, and "wasting no time" they sped off.
"The doctor asked me how long Katy was doing drugs. I said I didn't know. I said I didn't even know if she had taken drugs that night," Ducie told detectives, insisting he was totally anti-drugs. Corcoran told detectives an almost identical story. The officers were deeply suspicious.
Ducie's story did not add up. He said he had wasted no time in bringing Katy to hospital but, by his account, her seizure occurred at 8.15am or 8.30am. It was 10.12am when he arrived at Navan General – after a 12-minute drive. That left an hour-and-a-half, at least, unaccounted for. What were they doing for that wasted 90 minutes when Katy should have been in hospital? Detectives suspected they spent the time clearing up the evidence, delaying urgent medical care for Katy.
Detectives searched Ducie's house and his 4x4. They found Katy's phone on the floor of his car, but by then the house was spotless. All detectives could find was a fake garda identification badge. However, Ducie's mobile phone records led detectives to a crane driver in his early 20s called Russell Memery, who Ducie had called repeatedly on the night before Katy's collapse and the morning after. Memery gave detectives a very different version of what had happened.
He told how he and his girlfriend had just got back to his apartment on that Saturday night when Ducie phoned him at around 11pm. Ducie was looking for €200 worth of cocaine. Memery said he would try to get some from a dealer. Ducie phoned him back a short time later and told him the cocaine was for Katy French. Memery confirmed he could get the drug and then spoke to Corcoran to arrange a drop-off point. When he got there, Katy was waiting in her car. He got in, gave her the drugs and took the money – four €50 notes – and left. He told detectives he gave the money to the dealer.
Memery heard nothing more until the following morning when he got a phone call from Ducie at around 10am. He said Ducie was "going bananas". Katy was having some sort of seizure and he wanted to know what was in the cocaine. He kept asking Memery what he should do. Memery told him to ring an ambulance.
A few minutes later, Ducie phoned Memery from the 4x4 on his way to the hospital in Navan, shouting that Katy was in the back with Ann and was foaming at the mouth. Astonishingly, Ducie called the emergency services only after he had spoken twice to the man who arranged the drugs deal.
He dialled 999 at 10.06am but gave little information, claiming that Katy had banged her head.
Once at Navan General, Ducie phoned Memery for a third time, asking him about the drugs even as he and Corcoran continued to lie to the increasingly desperate medical team treating Katy. Memery told detectives that he could hear the doctors talking in the background, saying that "things weren't looking good" for Katy.
Ducie made several other panicked phone calls to some of Katy's closest friends. Among them was Tara O'Connor, a public relations consultant and one of Katy's closest pals. She did not know Ducie, other than once being introduced to him. But he phoned her from the 4x4 as he rushed Katy to hospital.
He told her Katy had collapsed. Tara asked if she had taken drugs and he said yes. He spoke to her again by phone from the hospital and put her on to the medical staff. Tara said this weekend that she could not understand why Ducie had not told the hospital staff what he had told her, so she told them when he put her on the phone.
Ducie also rang Katy's close friend, the model agency boss Andrea Roche. He told detectives that he asked her to tell the medical staff what she knew about Katy's history.
Discrepancies in Ducie and Corcoran's stories kept tumbling out. They claimed Katy had been drinking champagne all night, but the amount of alcohol in her system was the equivalent of half-a-glass of wine. Her body temperature was low, indicating she could have collapsed far earlier than Ducie and Corcoran had claimed.
There was more evidence that Ducie was lying. Memery told detectives that a few days after Katy's collapse, Ducie called him to again ask what was in the cocaine. He said Katy might die and they had to "get their story straight". After she died, Ducie was back on to Memery, ringing from a different mobile phone, asking him to meet so they could get their stories straight.
Detectives had testimony that undermined Ducie's claim that he "abhorred drug taking". The people he partied with in Swords the night before Katy's collapse told investigators that Ducie had been taking cocaine.
Ducie and Corcoran were eventually charged in connection with procuring Memery to possess cocaine and with recklessy or intentionally failing to get medical assistance on time. But the second charge was later dropped. Memery later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to procure cocaine.
Tara O'Connor said this weekend that Ducie had fed Katy's friends a "pack of lies" about what had happened on the morning she collapsed.
"Katy was a wonderful friend who had all of her life ahead of her," she said. "I was one of the people he called that morning, and we were fed a pack of lies. What I was told did not add up. There are missing hours before she was brought to hospital."