Tuesday 12 December 2017

'They were actually laughing at us and high-fiving friends' - Sister of N-Bomb death teen disgusted as two members of drug trio walk free

Alex Ryan (18) died after taking the drug at the party in Cork. Photo: Provision
Alex Ryan (18) died after taking the drug at the party in Cork. Photo: Provision
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE sister of a teenager who died from a lethal synthetic party drug nicknamed N Bomb claimed the sentences handed down to three people today for drug offences was "an insult to his memory."

Nicole Ryan warned that Ireland does not take drug dealing offences seriously enough - and claimed the trio who admitted the drugs offences had "no human decency" over their behaviour around the courthouse where they were laughing and 'high fiving' their friends.

Only one of the three people who admitted drugs offences before Cork Circuit Criminal Court following a Garda investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Alex Ryan (18) last January was jailed.

Harry Clifton (29) was jailed by Judge Gerard O'Brien for six months.

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

Judge O'Brien slated drug use within Ireland's affluent and middle classes and slated as "insidious" the normalisation of so-called recreational drug use.

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

Six people got sick after the Cork house party attended by Mr Ryan last January but only the teen died.

Mr Ryan's sister, Nicole, said his death left her family absolutely devastated.

"What kind of message are we sending out - we are essentially telling people that no matter what you do selling drugs you are going to get a suspended sentence," she said.

"We are basically telling people you are not going to be punished for what you do."

Ms Ryan also said her family was "very upset" at the behaviour of the three defendants around the courthouse over the past week.

She challenged any suggestion they had shown genuine remorse.

"They had 10 months to contact us and say sorry or say something to us? But not one ounce of remorse has been shown."

"It is heartbreaking - it is such a terrible week for us. But they (the defendants) were actually laughing at us. They were basically laughing at his death."

"In my opinion, they have absolutely no regard for human life at all."

Ms Ryan said her family were shocked that many of the people who attended the tragic party last January - an event described by Judge O'Brien as "an orgy of drink and drugs" -  attended court to show their support to the three defendants.

Not one had attended CUH last January as her brother had fought in vain for his life.

"This gives no incentive for young people to stay away from drugs - a suspended sentence with good behaviour?"

"A lot of our hopes and dreams died with Alex," 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."

Nicole said her family will be forever haunted by the sight of her brother slowly losing his battle for survival in front of their eyes.

They later donated the teen's organs with four people effectively being saved.

Nicole said her family now wants to help support the anti-drugs campaign in Ireland.

"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 took his life and changed our lives forever. Alex paid for his mistake with his life. We don't want any other Irish family to suffer our loss."

Judge O’Brien heard the tragedy occurred after around a dozen young people were having a four day party in Cork last January.

Jessica O'Connor was in the company of Alex Ryan and used the dating app, Tinder, to match up with another young man.

She 'matched' with Ruairí Maher and, during their online conversation, queried whether specific drugs could be sourced.

Maher knew that Harry Clifton might have such drugs and initiated contact.

Eventually, Alex Ryan, Jessica O'Connor and Ruairi Maher went to Harry Clifton's premises at St Finbarr's Place in Cork.

Maher sourced 12 'trips' of a hallucinogenic drug Clifton told him was 2CB but was in fact an extremely dangerous drug called 25i or N Bomb.

Maher bought the drugs for Euro 80 - and made a profit of Euro 40 by selling it to the others for Euro 120.

Mr Ryan later ingested the drug by inhaling it - one of the most dangerous ways of consuming it.

When several other people at the party later began to get sick, Maher

became very concerned and rang the Gardai and the emergency services.

Clifton is from Kilkenny and has previous convictions for drug offences including possession for sale or supply 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.

The total value of the drugs involved was €530.

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

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

Mr Ryan of Liscahane, Millstreet, Cork died at CUH on January 23, four days after collapsing at the party, of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy due to cardiac arrest after ingesting a psychedelic drug.

Judge O’Brien expressed his concern at the drug culture in Ireland.

“What is alarming is the level of disrespect that people have for themselves and for their own safety by taking drugs that are illicit and by taking drugs that are manufactured by criminals,” he said.

“People think it is OK to do it simply because they are having a good time."

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