Thursday 27 November 2014

Woman (26) died from toxic effects of cocaine and 'Dr Death' amphetamine - inquest

Fourth inquest into toxic drug death in a month hears how Laura Richardson's fiance found her on the kitchen floor

Gareth Naughton

Published 22/08/2014 | 17:32

The Coroner's Court in Dublin
The Coroner's Court in Dublin

A 26-year-old Dublin woman died from the toxic effects of cocaine and PMA, the amphetamine known as Dr Death, an inquest heard.

Laura Richardson of Bremore Pastures Crescent in Balbriggan, Co Dublin was found collapsed on the kitchen floor by her fiancé at the house they were staying in at Woodbine Road in  Edenmore on the afternoon of July 7 last year. The couple had been taking cocaine the night before.

This was the fourth inquest heard at Dublin Coroner's Court in the last month where death involved a combination of cocaine, PMA, and stimulant benzylpiperazine. All four people died within a period of just over a month starting with the June bank holiday weekend.

Her fiancé John McLoughlin told the court that the day before her death, he and Ms Richardson had spent the afternoon and evening taking "small amounts" of cocaine and drinking. He said that they used cocaine “on and off”. The cocaine was left over from some they had purchased three weeks previously before going on holiday. He confirmed that there were “no untoward effects” when they had taken the cocaine three weeks before. He did not see her take any tablets in the hours before her death, he said.

Ms Richardson went to bed at 3am on the morning of her death while Mr McLoughlin stayed up. He said that she woke up again at 7.30am and they had a few drinks together. Neighbour Aideen Cassidy came by at 11am to give them a cigarette and then he went to bed.

He woke up at 3pm and came downstairs to find Ms Richardson lying on the ground in the kitchen. “She looked dead,” he said. He started CPR immediately and alerted Ms Cassidy to come and help, using her phone to call the emergency services. Paramedics took Ms Richardson to Beaumont Hospital where resuscitation proved unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead.

Ms Cassidy was the last person to see her alive. She had returned to the house at around midday after going to the shops. She said when she was in the house Ms Richardson started to get “a bit panicky” so she took her outside for air and she began to calm down. As she left, Ms Richardson told her she was going to have a rest. “She was more relaxed and seemed okay,” she said.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that the toxicology screen at postmortem showed evidence that Ms Richardson had taken cocaine contaminated with horse tranquiliser Levamisole as well as PMA, ecstasy and benzylpiperazine in addition to alcohol. She died from acute cardio-respiratory failure as a result of the toxic effect of the combination of drugs.

“These drugs, especially the amphetamines, are very unpredictable in their effect and then you add in cocaine and you have a situation where sudden adverse reactions can occur. We have seen a number of deaths recently with these combinations of PMA, benzylpiperazine and cocaine,” he said.

There were no suspicious circumstances in the death or evidence of deliberate self-harm, he said, before giving a verdict of death by misadventure.

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