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Friends unaware pal dying of an overdose as they pranked him


James Devlin's face was covered in so much food it was hidden, the inquest was told yesterday

James Devlin's face was covered in so much food it was hidden, the inquest was told yesterday

James Devlin's face was covered in so much food it was hidden, the inquest was told yesterday

Friends of a young man dying from a drug overdose at a house party in Co Donegal covered his face in red sauce, vinegar and pizza and filmed it as a practical joke, an inquest heard.

James Devlin was found dead by pals outside the house in Ballybofey on May 26, 2018.

The 35-year-old had been socialising all evening with friends. He had taken alcohol but also consumed tablets and methadone.

A statement on behalf of the dead man's friend, Laura Sheehan, was read out at the inquest before coroner Dr Denis McCauley at Letterkenny Courthouse.


Ms Sheehan said James and some other friends met in McGuigan's Bar in Ballybofey and had consumed lots of alcohol before returning to her apartment at Finn Farm.

More alcohol was consumed and the friends ordered a takeaway.

James fell asleep and began to snore loudly.

Another pal, Samantha Malley, who described James as "like a brother", said she put some sauce on his face as a joke.

Ms Sheehan's statement revealed this escalated and that others put other stuff on James's face and in his mouth, including vinegar, mayonnaise, sauce and pizza.

She revealed it got so bad his face could not be seen because it was covered in food. Ms Sheehan's statement said she wanted to clean up the mess which had been caused in the house after the food had been poured over James.

He was taken outside and was unconscious.

He was left there but after a while one of the men at the party shouted, "He's dead, he's dead."

Ms Sheehan said James, who lived at Dillon Court, Strabane, Co Tyrone, had stopped snoring and his lips were blue.

An ambulance was called and a number of people tried to carry out CPR on him and resuscitate him.

Paramedics arrived and they worked on Mr Devlin for almost half an hour but he had died.

Garda Michael Kilcoyne said he received a call about the incident and the scene was cordoned off and a full investigation into the incident was launched.

A post-mortem on the remains of Mr Devlin was carried out by the State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan.

It showed the deceased had broken ribs which were consistent with someone carrying out CPR, as well as a number of abrasions.

However, the most telling feature was the presence of a number of substances including methadone in Mr Devlin's body.

Earlier in the evidence, Damien Murphy, who lived in another apartment at Finn Farm, said he had given Mr Devlin some of his methadone but estimated it was only up to 15 millilitres.


Coroner Dr McCauley said he was satisfied the cause of death was multiple drug toxicity and that Mr Devlin died as a result of cerebral depression.

He added that the foodstuffs placed on James's face had not caused his death as there was no sign of asphyxiation.

He said: "James went asleep and went unconscious and his brain turned off, which meant his heart and lungs turned off then."

He recorded a verdict of misadventure.

He expressed his sympathy with Mr Devlin's five sisters, who had travelled from Glasgow for the inquest.