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Friends of man dying from drug overdose put sauce on his face as joke

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Party: James Devlin had been socialising with friends. Photo: North West News

Party: James Devlin had been socialising with friends. Photo: North West News

Party: James Devlin had been socialising with friends. Photo: North West News

Friends of a man who was dying from a drug overdose at a house party unknowingly covered his face in red sauce, vinegar and pizza and filmed it as a practical joke, an inquest has heard.

James Devlin (35) was found dead by pals outside a house in Ballybofey, Co Donegal, on May 26, 2018.

He had been socialising all evening with friends and had taken alcohol but had also consumed tablets and methadone.

A statement on behalf of the dead man's friend, Laura Sheehan, was read out at the inquest before Coroner Dr Denis McCauley at Letterkenny Courthouse.

Ms Sheehan told how Mr Devlin and some other friends met in McGuigan's Bar in Ballybofey and consumed lots of alcohol before returning to her apartment at Finn Farm.

More alcohol was consumed and the friends also ordered a takeaway. Mr Devlin fell asleep and began to snore loudly. Another friend, Samantha Malley, who described Mr Devlin as being "like a brother", said she put some sauce on his face as a joke.

Ms Sheehan's statement told how this escalated and that others at the party put all sorts of other stuff on Mr Devlin's face and in his mouth including vinegar, mayonnaise, sauce and pizza.

She said it got so bad that you couldn't see his face at all because it was covered in food.

Ms Sheehan said she wanted to clean up the mess caused in the house after food had been poured over Mr Devlin. He was taken outside and was unconscious. He was left there but, after a while, one of the men at the party shouted: "He's dead, he's dead."

Ms Sheehan said Mr Devlin, of Dillon Court, Strabane, Co Tyrone, had stopped snoring and his lips were blue.

An ambulance was called and a number of people tried to carry out CPR on him and resuscitate him. Paramedics arrived and they worked on Mr Devlin for almost half-an-hour.

Garda Michael Kilcoyne said he received a call about the incident and the scene was cordoned off and a full investigation was launched.

A post-mortem performed by State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan found the deceased had broken ribs which were consistent with someone carrying out CPR as well as a number of abrasions.The most telling feature was the presence of a number of substances, including methadone, in Mr Devlin's body.

Dr McCauley said he was satisfied the cause of death was multiple drug toxicity. He said the foodstuffs placed on Mr Devlin's face had not caused his death as there was no sign of asphyxiation. He recorded a verdict of misadventure.

Irish Independent