Monday 28 May 2018

'One mistake cost him his life' - lethal drug which killed teen sourced on the 'DarkWeb' from Thai supplier for sale in Cork

Nicole's brother Alex, who died after taking the N Bomb drug Photo: Provision
Nicole's brother Alex, who died after taking the N Bomb drug Photo: Provision
Nicole Ryan Photo: Cork Courts Limited

Ralph Riegal

A potent designer drug which claimed the life of 18-year-old teen Alex Ryan was sourced from Thailand on the so-called 'DarkWeb' for sale throughout Cork, an inquest has heard.

Speaking after the inquest, where a verdict of misadventure was returned, Alex's sister Nicole urged people to think about the consequences before taking drugs.

"Young people need to realise that they are playing Russian roulette with their lives when they take drugs," she said.

"Alex could have been anyone's brother, son or partner - it is not a question of 'if' someone else will die from drugs in Ireland, it is only a question of when."

Nicole has now devoted herself to speaking in schools to warn youngsters about the dangers of drugs.

Mr Ryan died after ingesting a lethal synthetic party drug on January 18 2016.

Six people fell ill after the four-day Cork house party attended by Mr Ryan but only the teen died.

Gardaí revealed that when they attended the Cork house involved, some partygoers were dancing naked covered in their own blood.

One naked partygoer was using their own blood to create images on the house walls.

In a subsequent statement to Gardai, one partygoer described it was "the best trip" she had ever had.

Nicole said she found such comments to be "absolutely shocking" given that her brother had lost his life.

She said her family hadn't received any apology or direct expression of sympathy from those at the party.

Almost a year after Mr Ryan's death in an unconnected tragedy, another Cork teen, Michael Cornacchia (16), died after the suspected ingestion of a different designer drug.

His death last month prompted the HSE to issue a public warning over a synthetic opioid, U-47700, feared to be in circulation in Cork and south Munster.

Mr Cornacchia's inquest has yet to be staged.

Speaking during Alex's inquest coroner Philip Comyn demanded a radical overhaul of drug education in Irish schools after he revealed one-in-three inquests he held this year involved deaths connected to drugs or alcohol.

In evidence at Alex Ryan's inquest, Gardaí warned that youngsters have no idea of precisely what is contained in such drugs.

Det Sgt Jason Lynch said that some synthetic drugs seized by Gardaí over recent years have included such ingredients as Ajax scouring powder, rat poison, cement and even piano wire cleaner.

"The drugs market has changed. The (drugs) market now changes on a weekly basis," he said, in terms of specific designer drug demand.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster admitted that Irish doctors and lab technicians are battling to keep up with the changes in such synthetic drugs.

"They are highly dangerous. Even a small amount of these drugs can kill you," she said.

"People in the labs are working hard to keep up with the new types of drugs."

"The problem is that the chemists are 'tweaking' the drugs all the time."

The inquest heard that the NBomb which claimed Mr Ryan's life is a very rare but highly toxic synthetic drug which is a more powerful psychedelic substance than LSD.

It was sourced via the 'DarkWeb' for distribution in Cork from a supplier in Thailand.

Nicole Ryan urged youngsters to heed the stark warnings of her brother's tragic death.

"A lot of our hopes and dreams died with Alex that day," she said.

"There is not a day that we don't think about him and what a terrible loss we have suffered."

Nicole said she will never forget the sight of her brother fighting in vain for his life in the intensive care unit of Cork University Hospital (CUH).

"He was lying in the hospital bed. There were tubes everywhere - in his arms and from his mouth."

"It was awful to see. We hoped and prayed that he would pull through but there was too much damage."

"Alex was a wonderful person. He had a beautiful smile and he was as kind-hearted a soul as you could ever meet."

"But he made one very bad decision. That mistake cost him his life. He paid the ultimate price. It changed our lives forever. We don't want any other Irish family to suffer our loss," she said.

The inquest heard that Mr Ryan's organs were donated and four people had life-saving operations as a result.

Last November, three people were sentenced before Cork Circuit Criminal Court on charges arising from the Mr Ryan's tragic death - with the sentences dismissed by Nicole as "an insult" to her brother's memory.

Harry Clifton (29) of St Finbarr's Place, Cork was jailed for six months. Clifton has previous convictions for drug offences including possession and cultivation of cannabis.

He pleaded guilty to four charges of having drugs in his possession for sale or supply on January 18 last including N Bomb, DMT, MDMA and cannabis.

However, Jessica O'Connor (20) and Ruairí Maher (22) avoided jail and received two year suspended prison sentences.

O'Connor of Rosebank House, Ballyhar, Killarney, Co Kerry pleaded guilty to a single charge of possession of a controlled drug, namely N Bomb, in Cork city on January 18 last.

Maher of Ballycurrane, Thurles, Co Tipperary pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiring with another to handle drugs, namely N Bomb.

Judge Gerard O'Brien expressed concern at the revelations of drug use in the case.

He slated as "insidious" the normalisation of so-called recreational drug use, particularly by middle-class youngsters.

"This highlights the insidious normalisation of the consumption of illicit drugs," he said.

"What is recreational drug use in the upper middle classes is scumbag drug use to people who live in less affluent areas," he warned.

Judge O'Brien said it was "alarming" how young people were willing to risk their lives in pursuit of "a better, more extreme high."

"The offences committed arise from a devil-may-care and reckless attitude towards the consumption of illicit drugs and in this case designer drugs."

"The participants (in the fateful party) were middle-class college students whose sense of entitlement to access that better and greater high clouded their judgement."

"When are young people going to understand there are no quality controls on illicit drugs manufactured by criminals? Many of them have rat poison in them."

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