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Rise in drug-fuelled deaths sparks concern

CORONERS and gardai have expressed concern about the growing number of drug- related deaths.

Only last week, an inquest into the death of Lauren Keech found she died after taking ecstasy and cocaine at a hotel just two days before Christmas in 2007.

The 18-year-old booked two rooms with four friends so they could take ecstasy. The inquest heard how the student nurse had taken about five ecstasy tablets and "three small lines" of cocaine on the night she died.

Her friend said they thought the teenager was "just having a bad buzz" after she started shaking.

A hotel receptionist told the inquest that this type of "E party" in a hotel "happens all the time".

Her parents, Sandra and Trevor Keech, said they had sat their daughter down when model Katy French died to warn her of the dangers of drugs.

Ms French, who died just three weeks before Ms Keech, collapsed after she took cocaine.

Just weeks before that, two young men fell into comas after taking cocaine at a house party in Waterford city.

Eleven people were taken to Waterford Regional Hospital and two of those -- John Grey (23), from Ballybeg, and student Kevin Doyle (21) from Viewmount -- fell into a coma. Neither man regained consciousness.

Mr Doyle died on December 4, 2007, while Mr Grey died on December 8.

Earlier this year, Anthony Connolly (26), of Priory Lawn, Ballybeg, Waterford, was given a six-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to possession of drugs and possession of drugs for the purposes of sale or supply.

The court heard the drug had been found buried in the ground and because damp cocaine was impossible to snort, party-goers "ate it like animals".

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Last week, Dublin city coroner Brian Farrell warned that he was seeing a growing number of deaths as a result of cocaine being mixed with lignocaine -- a drug used to treat people with heart ailments -- on the streets.

"We have had a number of deaths where cocaine is bulked with lignocaine," he said.

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