Tuesday 27 September 2016

Tragedy of celeb couple's addict son who 'just fell at the last ditch'

Eimear Cotter

Published 27/01/2016 | 06:30

Mention "heroin" and any number of horrific images might come to mind.

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Grunge-rock icons of the Nineties trying to manipulate a guitar with scabbed-up arms. That picture of a teen star you saw on a tabloid cover. Maybe your cool older brother or sister forcing you to watch Requiem for a Dream when you were a kid because it was "totally edgy".

But how did Daniel Marshall - the genial, dark-haired son of socialite and former model Jackie Rafter and celebrity hairdresser David Marshall - get caught up in "chasing the dragon"?

He died, aged 25, of mixed drug toxicity involving heroin and prescribed drugs including benzodiazepines and the sleeping pill zimovane.

Daniel, of Coppinger Glade, Stillorgan, was found dead in the toilets of the Fitzwilliam Hotel, opposite St Stephen's Green, on July 12, 2014.

An inquest on Monday heard he was last seen alive by a bouncer at Dandelion Nightclub next to the Fitzwilliam. David Boyle saw him walk past at 11.30pm.

CCTV footage showed Daniel entering the hotel at 12.28am through the main entrance and making his way to the lower floor. He entered the ladies' toilets on his own and no one else entered the toilets until he was found four hours later.

At around 4.30am, assistant night manager Miroslav Voisnis checked the toilets. Unable to open the door of the last cubicle, he found an unresponsive male on the floor.

A used syringe was found on the floor next to him, Dublin Coroner's Court heard.

The inquest painted a picture of a loving son, a caring brother and a long-term boyfriend.

Known to his family as Dan, he was also a heroin user who found himself before several district court sittings. But he was also a determined young man, desperately trying to rehabilitate himself after a three-year addiction.

Charming

So where did it all go wrong for the good-looking, charming and gregarious young man from an affluent Dublin suburb who laughingly shouted "Did you get my good side?" to the Herald photographer outside Dun Laoghaire District Court in May 2013.

He then struck a series of poses so the snapper could get a decent shot.

His tragic death highlights how drugs - particularly heroin - can ruin a life and how difficult it can be to beat an addiction.

It also shows that heroin does not discriminate between young and old, poor or wealthy, those alone or with family support.

Daniel was "an adored son" to his parents, his death notice read.

His funeral attracted a cross-section of Irish society including snooker player Ken Doherty, singer Dickie Rock, radio DJ Dave Fanning, film producer Michael Colgan, restaurateur Robbie Fox and former Black Tie owner Niall O'Farrell.

It was recalled at the service that Daniel was part of the St Michael's College rugby team that won the Leinster Senior Cup for the first time in years.

He played the game to a high level, barrister Peter Lennon, representing Ms Rafter and her daughter, told this week's inquest.

Although he excelled at rugby, Daniel had speech difficulties as well as having Attention Deficit Disorder from a young age.

He also had a soft heart, and was clearly a "mammy's boy".

Daniel completed his Leaving Cert and went on to get 270 points.

In his short life, he did courses in car mechanics, sports management and hairdressing and had worked in a bookmakers. However, this was against the backdrop of a drug problem that escalated when he began taking heroin "out of boredom" at the age of 21.

He had consistently tried to kick the habit and had attended a number of detox and treatment centres.

By 2013, he had admitted to a theft charge, and told how he once shoplifted because it was "his mother's birthday" and he "wanted it to be special".

His death came at a time when he was "doing really well", his girlfriend of four years recalled.

Kate Bonner said they had met earlier on the evening Daniel died and had had a long talk.

"He was in good form. We just chatted for a while and he went off. He said he was going to Donnybrook," she said.

Asked if she had any concerns for him, she replied: "Not really. We'd had a long talk and arranged to meet the next day. I was aware of his addiction but he'd been doing really well.

"That's what makes this the more tragic. It was the best I'd seen him do, so it was a shock."

Daniel's family always tried to do their best by Daniel and went through rehab a number of times with him.

His uncle, Ed Martin, who married Ms Rafter's twin sister, became emotional as he addressed the inquest from the public gallery.

"I couldn't leave without saying Dan was a great young fellow, he just fell at the last ditch," he said.

He added that his nephew had enjoyed great family support.

Speaking about Daniel's mother, Mr Martin told the inquest: "A better mother you could not find. She tried everything for Daniel. Despite many ups and more downs, she kept on trying, both public and private.

"I've known. I've been married to her sister for 30 years. I saw the whole thing un- folding."

Suspicious

In unexpected scenes at the inquest, Mr Marshall stood up to address coroner Dr Brian Farrell from the public gallery but was asked by a friend to stay calm.

He referenced how his son got involved with drugs.

"He said it all started when he was a teenager," he said. At this stage, gardai moved to escort Mr Marshall from the court.

The coroner said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, and the cause of death was mixed drug toxicity involving heroin and prescribed drugs.

Daniel had amassed 40 convictions, mostly for minor theft and public order offences, but also for assault and criminal damage.

The convictions highlight what a person - a good, decent, kind person - is capable of when under the influence of heroin.

In May 2013, Dun Laoghaire District Court heard how Daniel punched and headbutted a teenager while on the Luas, leaving the 18-year-old with blood running down the side of his face.

When sentencing him in July 2013 on a theft matter, Judge Anthony Halpin warned him: "Unless you get your act together, you are not going to see 50 years of age."

The judge's words were too prove prophetic.

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