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Saturday 20 September 2014

Cocaine was found in system of tragic teenager Andrew Clarke

Nicola Anderson and Gareth Naughton

Published 04/07/2014 | 02:30

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Derry Clarke  his wife, Sallyanne and daughter, Sarah May at Andrew's funeral mass.
Derry Clarke his wife, Sallyanne and daughter, Sarah May at Andrew's funeral mass.
Andrew Clarke died on New Year's Eve 2012

RESTAURATEURS Derry and Sallyanne Clarke say they were "shocked" to discover that their teenage son had used drugs, including cocaine, shortly before his death in December 2012.

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They have now appealed for people in trouble to seek help, adding that they themselves have gained "particular solace" from organisations like Console and Teenline.

The Dublin City Coroner returned an open verdict on the death of young motorsports enthusiast, Andrew Clarke (16), after finding that the cocaine and benzodiazepines in his system cast doubt as to the young man's state of mind when he died. Andrew Clarke was discovered slumped against a car having hanged himself in the garage of the family home at Meegans Lane, Crooksling in Brittas, Co Dublin on December 27 2012.

He died four days later at Tallaght Hospital, having never regained consciousness.

Analysis

Dublin coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned an open verdict after a urine analysis carried out on Andrew's admission to hospital found cocaine and benzodiazepines casting doubt on his state of mind at the time of the hanging.

His parents were present in court along with their daughter Sarah-May.

They declined to give evidence from the witness box but their depositions were read into the record.

The family were the only ones present in the body of the courtroom and sat close together, the parents holding their daughter's hand to comfort her during the distressing evidence of the discovery of Andrew's body.

In her deposition, Sallyanne said that she discovered Andrew slumped against his car in the garage when she went to call him for brunch at 1.35pm.

He had gone out to the garage about 25 minutes earlier.

When she discovered him he was unconscious and was still hanging. She immediately attempted to lift him, she said, but he was six foot four and weighed 17 stone so she was unable to do so.

She screamed for help and Mr Clarke arrived along with Sarah-May and her boyfriend Diarmuid O'Connor.

"We cut the chord and laid him on the ground beside his car and I started CPR with Diarmuid. Sarah-May called for medical aid which subsequently arrived. The ambulance men took over CPR and removed him to a waiting ambulance where they got a heartbeat," she said.

Dr Farrell told the family that were it not for their prompt intervention, Andrew would likely have died at the scene.

He was taken to Tallaght Hospital where a scan showed evidence of hypoxic brain injury, caused when his brain was deprived of oxygen during the hanging incident.

Brain stem death was later confirmed. Andrew died on the afternoon of New Year's Eve.

The court heard that three people benefited from organ donation following his death.

The pathologist gave the cause of death as a hypoxic brain injury as a result of asphyxia due to hanging. Dr Farrell said that a urine screen carried out on Andrew's admission to hospital found cocaine, benzodiazepines and painkiller medication in his system.

At post-mortem, a breakdown product of cocaine was present.

The family did not give any further comment after the hearing.

Irish Independent

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