Wednesday 17 January 2018

Dead drug user faced charges over royal visit

Victim of 'super-strong' heroin was accused of possessing toy gun when the Queen came here

Ralph Riegel and Niall O'Connor

ONE of the victims of the 'super-strength' heroin tragedy in Cork had been due to appear before the District Court in relation to carrying a toy gun during Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ireland last year.

Gary O'Sullivan, 30, who was known to gardai, had been due before Cork District Court in relation to a public-order arrest in May 2011 during the British monarch's visit.

The revelation came as gardai yesterday recovered a small quantity of heroin following a series of raids across Cork city aimed at taking the deadly drug out of circulation.

Detectives have pleaded with heroin addicts not to use drugs bought over the past fortnight, as tests indicated that the heroin is so strong that it can kill those used to lower-strength opiates.

O'Sullivan's case was mentioned before the court last month but was adjourned until November. He was described last night as a tragic figure.

He lost his long-term girlfriend in tragic circumstances last summer and had been battling an increasingly severe addiction over recent years.

O'Sullivan was found unconscious in a flat in Cork after suspected use of the 'super-strength' heroin.

He and another man died and seven others remain seriously ill in Cork University Hospital (CUH) after using the heroin, which is feared to have been up to five times more concentrated than the normal heroin that is supplied to users in the city.

It is suspected that one kilo of high-purity heroin -- worth up to €200,000 -- was smuggled into Cork last weekend and that it was then cut and sold off to users within days by dealers.

Over a 24-hour period from Thursday evening, nine ambulances were called to at least five separate addresses across Cork city and county to deal with suspected drug-related collapses.

The two dead men were named locally as Gary O'Sullivan (30), originally from Togher but who had been living on the Blackrock Road, and Gavin Thompson (25), from Wolfe Tone Street in Gurranabraher.

Chief Superintendent Michael Finn said there was nothing to indicate that the drugs had been contaminated.

Emergency consultant Dr Chris Luke said: "We are dealing with as many as nine ambulance calls for victims of what appears to be heroin in the last 24 hours. It is an extraordinary number.

"We think all nine cases have involved the intravenous injection of heroin. Tragically, we have two deaths and two near-deaths, where people were saved by hospital teams -- and five others who were acutely ill as a result of taking what I suspect is going to turn out to be a very pure (form of) heroin."

He added: "This is obviously a much more pure and concentrated form of heroin than what has been in the city before this week.

"What happens periodically is that the strength of a drug can change."

The initial suspicions are that the drugs originated from the Netherlands.

Sunday Independent

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