Sunday 17 December 2017

Addict died inhaling lighter fuel during sex, inquest told

Michael McHugh

A MAN died inhaling lighter fluid while having sex with his girlfriend, an inquest heard yesterday,

James Campbell (29) had been addicted to butane gas -- using up to eight containers a day, Belfast coroner Joanne Donnelly was told.

He was in bed with his partner at his home in Bangor, Co Down, when he lost consciousness.

The former catering assistant, who was addicted from the age of 14, had been discharged from treatment a year before his death after failing to attend appointments.

The coroner said nothing more could have been done by the addiction services.

"He slumped down on top of me. I could not move, I noticed that his face was going purple and he struggled to breathe," his partner said yesterday.


"I told him to get off me but he did not respond. I dragged him off the bed, his head banged on the ground when he came off the bed."

She phoned Mr Campbell's mother, Ellen Campbell, in panic before calling an ambulance.

A report by pathologist Dr Roy Lyness said sudden death can happen when people use butane due to the lack of oxygen or because of a disturbance to the heart rhythm.

"There can be little doubt that it was the effects of the inhalation of these substances that was responsible for his death," he said.

Butane produces a euphoric feeling when inhaled, the pathologist added.

Mr Campbell, from the town's Rathgill Crescent, died on September 29 last year. He was treated in 2006 for his addiction, undertaking a four-week hospital programme.

However, family problems and his butane habit caused his urgent referral back to specialist services in September 2009. He was assessed, but missed two appointments and was discharged back to his GP six months later.

Ms Donnelly said that it was normal practice that his GP would be informed of the discharge within 14 working days.

"Although it is unlikely that the timing of this discharge letter contributed in any way to the circumstances that led to his death, it is reassuring to hear that guidance is in place that they must be completed within 14 days," she said.

She added that it highlighted the great dangers of inhaling aerosols.


Mr Campbell's GP, Dr Heather Beckett, submitted a statement that described a history of drug abuse, including butane, which stopped while he was in the army but resumed at age 24.

The coroner found that Mr Campbell died from butane inhalation after deliberately inhaling it for its euphoric effects.

Irish Independent

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