THE grieving partner of Gerry Ryan is visiting her native South Africa as a series of new allegations emerged about the illegal use of drugs by the late broadcaster.
Melanie Verwoerd has been spending time at home in Pretoria while new claims surfaced about the RTE star, this time coming from his former sister-in-law, Janice O'Brien.
The ex-wife of his brother Michael Ryan has claimed she once witnessed Ryan crawling "around on the floor" seeking tiny remnants of cocaine when he had run out of the class A drug and was unable to track down a dealer.
"Many people who knew Gerry knew he took drugs. It was an accepted open secret for years. He used everywhere -- birthday parties, Christmas parties. I'm not the only person in the world that knows this," said Ms O'Brien.
The mother of two claimed that the media personality even used drugs while working at the national broadcaster.
"In RTE I saw him snorting it in the studio. Gerry is taking all this flak for all the coke. . . champagne, cocaine and Valium was the known recipe. He needed the Valium to bring him down and he had to go and act normally for interviews -- so he had to get his head together somehow," Ms O'Brien added.
The reports will cause further upset to Ryan's partner, Unicef Ireland boss Ms Verwoerd, who found the late broadcaster's body at his home on Leeson Street, Dublin, last April.
The 43-year-old left Ireland before Christmas to spend time with her family and to take a break from the continuing media storm prompted by his inquest.
Over the festive period Ms Verwoerd was left reeling after being excluded from a TV documentary on Ryan's life produced by RTE.
The charity worker had been approached to take part in the tribute programme just two days before the late broadcaster's inquest but was forced to turn down the production because they wanted her to go before cameras just five days after an inquest revealed that cocaine had been the likely trigger for the heart failure which caused Ryan's death. Ms Verwoerd said she would never have been "emotionally or physically ready to give such a personal interview" so close to an inquest ordeal that left her "traumatised".
Instead, Ms Verwoerd, who has only given one full interview since the death of the 53-year-old, promised to honour "my Gerry" at a later date.
However, any hope of a reassessment of the RTE star's broadcasting career has been left in tatters by Ryan's sister-in-law's claims that he used drugs all his life, sometimes openly.
"He did drugs as a teenager and that didn't change in adulthood. But obviously with the money and the fame, Gerry needed more of a high all the time," she said. "It was quite open."
Ms Verwoerd was unavailable for comment last night.