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Man (33) died after taking 'poppers' during phone sex with theatre director

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Michael Scott

Michael Scott

Michael Scott

A YOUNG art director died after taking 'poppers' while having phone sex with prominent theatre director Michael Scott, an inquest heard.

Darach Culhane-Nolan (33) was found dead by his mother at his home on the Burrow Road in Sutton, Dublin on March 16 last year.

He had been inhaling the chemical amyl nitrate -- more commonly known as 'poppers' -- the night before, while on the phone with Mr Scott.

Mr Scott, who is the cultural editor of 'Social and Personal' magazine and artistic director at City Theatre Dublin, told Dublin Coroner's Court he had first met the deceased just 10 days beforehand and that they had spent a lot of time together in the intervening period.

Drinking

Mr Culhane-Nolan, who was a freelance art director, had just finished a contract on the Oscar-nominated film 'Albert Nobbs' and was not due back to work until the end of the month.

On the night of his death, Mr Culhane-Nolan had been out drinking in Howth and when he returned home he and Mr Scott spoke on the phone.

Mr Scott said the deceased told him he was about to inhale 'poppers' and he asked him not to. He then told Mr Scott he had spilled some of the liquid into his nasal passage.

He heard Mr Culhane-Nolan make a choking noise, followed by snoring. He called back soon afterwards and got no answer, so he assumed that Mr Culhane-Nolan had gone to sleep.

The deceased's mother, Frances Kelly, asked why he had not called a doctor when he heard the choking noise.

Mr Scott replied that he had been "making love" to Mr Culhane-Nolan over the phone and that he had assumed that he had climaxed and, as a result, he saw no cause for alarm.

Mr Culhane-Nolan was found the next day by his mother when she attempted to wake him up. One of his eyes was open, she said, and his head was stone cold to the touch.

The emergency services attended the scene but Mr Culhane-Nolan had already been dead for at least 12 hours.

Gardai who attended the scene found a bottle labelled 'Xtreme Extra Strong Aroma' -- a known brand of amyl nitrite -- which was two-thirds empty.

Mr Scott said the deceased told him he had picked up the bottle on a trip to London.

Amyl nitrate increases the heart rate and can be used to enhance sexual pleasure.

At post-mortem, Mr Culhane-Nolan was found to have a significant level of alcohol in his system. No trace of amyl nitrate could be detected. However, the court heard that the substance is volatile and would have evaporated by the time the autopsy was carried out.

The cause of death was given as cardiac dysrhythmia -- an irregular heartbeat that can lead to cardiac arrest -- linked to the inhalation of amyl nitrite.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

Irish Independent