Thursday 22 February 2018

'They will destroy you' - mother who lost three sons to drugs tells inquest of family's heartbreak

Carmel Kidney, Ballincollig, Cork holds photos of her deceased sons
Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/ Provision
Carmel Kidney, Ballincollig, Cork holds photos of her deceased sons Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/ Provision
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A HEARTBROKEN mother who lost three sons to heroin overdoses has pleaded with people to say 'No' to drugs.

Carmel Kidney (63) issued the plea as a Cork Coroner's inquest was staged into the death of her son, Alan (44).

Alan Kidney was found dead in a property at Kilbrogan Terrace in Bandon, Co Cork on June 13  2017.

Carmel had previously lost her sons John (37) and Fergus (39) to drug related deaths.

Sarah Kidney pictured with her mother Carmel at Bandon courthouse for the inquest into the death of Alan Kidney.
Pic Cork Courts Limited
Sarah Kidney pictured with her mother Carmel at Bandon courthouse for the inquest into the death of Alan Kidney. Pic Cork Courts Limited

John died in September 2014 while his twin brother, Fergus, died two years later.

Coroner Frank O'Connell returned a verdict of death by drugs overdose after hearing medical evidence that Alan Kidney died from heroin, methadone and benzodiazepine use.

Mr O'Connell said it was "quite shocking" for any family to suffer such a loss.

"It is terribly sad. I have never heard of the like before let alone seen it."

Alan Kidney, deceased son of Carmel Kidney, Ballincollig,Cork
Pic from Provision
Alan Kidney, deceased son of Carmel Kidney, Ballincollig,Cork Pic from Provision

"To see three members of the same family, three brothers, die from heroin (overdoses) is quite shocking."

"I hope this is the end of it in this town - but someone is supplying drugs in this town to victims like Mr Kidney."

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster conducted a post mortem examination on Mr Kidney and found traces of four drugs in his system including heroin, methadone and benzodiazepine.

The benzodiazepine was at toxic levels.

Mr Kidney was found kneeling on the ground in his bedroom with his head held in his hands.

A syringe was found nearby.

Carmel said she now doesn't want any other family to suffer the nightmare of her loss.

"Drugs kill and that is something everyone needs to understand - they will destroy you," she said.

"I am heartbroken - as a mother I am devastated. I had three funerals to go through."

Carmel admitted her entire family has been devastated by the sheer scale of the loss.

Tragically, her twin boys, John and Fergus, were found unresponsive in the same Cork apartment but two years apart.

Cork Coroner's Court acknowledged it was "shocking and extraordinary" for three brothers to die in such a manner in the space of just three years.

Carmel said the power and lure of drugs was borne out by the fact her son Alan attended the joint inquest of his twin brothers - and heard the coroner and pathologist issued a stark warning about the dangers of drugs.

Mr O'Connell noted that he remembered Mr Kidney attending the inquest of his brothers.

It was Alan who discovered the bodies of his two brothers - and had to identify the bodies of John and Fergus to Gardai.

Carmel, who was accompanied to the inquest by her daughter, Sarah, admitted words cannot convey the pain of the triple loss.

"It is devastating - there is no other word for it," she said.

"It has torn us up - ripped us apart."

The family's grief is exacerbated by the fact they desperately tried to get treatment and support for the addiction problems of the three young men.

"All we were told was that there were waiting lists for drug treatment centres," Sarah previously said.

The three brothers were very close.

"They were the very best of friends - they were almost more like buddies than brothers."

Discovering the bodies of his twin brothers had a terrible impact on Alan.

Because of Fergus and John's deaths, Alan became very quiet and private within his family.

He carefully hid his drug use from them, even injecting between his toes in a bid to hide the tell-tale signs of heroin from his family.

"We all believed he was clean and getting on with his life," Carmel said.

The family were shocked when Gardai discovered Alan's body with heroin paraphernalia nearby.

"None of us could believe it."

Last February, Cork City Coroner Philip Comyn issued a stark warning about Ireland's urgent need to overhaul drug education programmes in schools.

Mr Comyn issued the warning after he revealed that one-in-three inquests held in 2016/2017 involved deaths connected to drugs or alcohol.

Two 16-year-old and 18-year-old boys died in separate tragedies in Cork over the past three years from lethal designer drugs which were confused with other drugs such as Ecstasy and cocaine.

Online Editors

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News