Sunday 19 November 2017

'They were basically laughing at his death. They have absolutely no regard for human life at all...'

Sister of teenager who died after taking N Bomb drug criticises sentencing of trio

The sister of a teenager who died from a lethal synthetic party drug nicknamed N Bomb claimed the sentences handed down to three people for drug offences were "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.

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

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 yesterday.

Harry Clifton (29) of St Finbarr's Place, Cork, was jailed by Judge Gerard O'Brien 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.

Ruairí Maher Photo: Cork Courts Limited
Ruairí Maher Photo: Cork Courts Limited

However, both 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.

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

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

Jessica O'Connor Photo: Cork Courts Limited
Jessica O'Connor Photo: Cork Courts Limited

"This case 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.

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

Nicole Ryan Photo: Cork Courts Limited
Nicole Ryan Photo: Cork Courts Limited

"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."

Judge O'Brien said the disregard of people, many of them well-educated, to the dangers of drugs was "disturbing and deeply regrettable".

Six people got sick after the four-day Cork house party attended by Mr Ryan last January, but only he died.

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

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

"They didn't show one ounce of remorse for Alex - they didn't show any remorse towards us," she said.

"They had 10 months to contact us and say sorry or say something to us. It is heartbreaking - 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 support the defendants.

Not one had attended Cork University Hospital (CUH) last January as her brother was dying, Ms Ryan said.

"This (sentence) gives no incentive for young people to stay away from drugs - a suspended sentence with good behaviour?," she said.

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

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

"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.

"He made one very bad decision. That mistake cost him his life."

Judge O'Brien heard the tragedy occurred after around a dozen young people had 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.

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 €80 - and made a profit of €40 by selling it to the others for €120.

Clifton had been using the drug himself and did so by swallowing a quantity wrapped in paper.

He knew the drug was powerful so he advised the trio to be careful with it. He also gave them a smaller dose than he would use himself.

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

Irish Independent

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