Wednesday 25 April 2018

Gary's friends played pranks on him after a drinking game -- they didn't know he was dying

Ralph Riegel

A student who died of alcohol poisoning was stripped naked by his friends as a prank and then placed in a lift which was sent between the floors of his apartment block.

Gary Murphy (19) also had his eyebrows shaved off while he was placed in bed after being unable to stand or talk due to his alcohol consumption.

He later slipped into unconsciousness and, when he was rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) by paramedics, was found to have a lethal blood alcohol concentration of 399mg, five times the drink-driving limit.

The shocking final hours of his life were detailed at his inquest in Cork yesterday.

After the hearing, Mr Murphy's father, Liam, broke down and sobbed as he spoke movingly about his son's death.

"Gary was a lovely, lovely lad. He was deeply loved by his family, his extended family and his friends. Gary loved life, Gary loved living in Cork and being a student at UCC," he said.

"Gary was a giver -- never a taker. Gary always wanted to give something back. I miss Gary really terribly -- he was my beloved son and a lovely, lovely lad," he added.

The student spent his 19th birthday on a life-support machine -- and died on December 17 2009, 10 days after being admitted to CUH.

The coroner's inquest heard that the talented Waterford hurler had consumed an estimated 11 cans of beer and a half-litre of apple vodka over the course of December 6, 2009.

At one point, more than 20 people were at the party in his flat at Victoria Mills, Victoria Cross, Cork.

During the party, the young man accepted a €25 bet that he couldn't down the remaining 250ml of vodka left in the bottle in a single swig and without a mixer.

He and his friends had been playing a drinking game called 'Kings' in which cards drawn dictated how long a person had to drink for. When he succeeded in downing the vodka after swigging from the bottle by the neck, his friends cheered and slapped him on the back, shouting: "Murphy is a legend, Murphy is a legend."

One friend told the inquest that he did not fear for Mr Murphy because "he could well handle his liquor".

After consuming the vodka, the young man tore off his shirt -- and was repeatedly cheered and slapped on the back by other partygoers.

Some time later, Mr Murphy was slurring his words and had to be helped stay upright.

It also emerged that, when he was stripped naked and placed in the lift as a joke, several partygoers had taken photos or video of him with their mobile phones.

The young man was so drunk he was unable to prevent his clothes being pulled off.

After the lift prank, Mr Murphy was carried to his bed and placed on his side in case he got sick. However, a short time after being placed in bed, one friend noticed that his lips and one ear were turning blue.

A young woman from another flat who was a trainee nurse was alerted and she immediately ordered that an ambulance be called. Mr Murphy of Palm Drive, Grantstown Village, Co Waterford had been celebrating with friends and classmates that night after the hurling club he played for, Ballygunner, won the U-21 championship a few days earlier.

The inquest was told that the young man died from bronchial pneumonia and cardio-respiratory problems linked to acute alcohol intoxication.

Gardai said there was nothing suspicious about the matter.

A verdict of death by misadventure was returned.

Irish Independent

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