| 11.7°C Dublin

Gardai fear more deaths as lethal heroin kills two

A LETHAL batch of high-grade heroin that has left two dead and seven fighting for their lives could now sweep the country, experts have warned.

There are fears of further fatalities this weekend after a shipment of the highly dangerous substance was smuggled into Ireland.

It is believed that Gavin Thompson (25) and Gary O'Sullivan (30) died within hours of each other after consuming the high-purity drug in separate locations in Co Cork.

And five other men, also believed to have taken the drug, are fighting for their lives.

It's understood that two of the individuals recovering in hospital were close to losing their lives but for the medical care administered at the scene

The heroin involved is so pure, it is lethal to drug users used to a lower grade of opiate.

Gardai carried out a number of raids this weekend in a desperate attempt to recover the entire heroin shipment.

But experts fear more tragedies could follow as the substance remains on the market and may be transported around the country, including into the capital.

Medical professionals told the Herald that more deaths are on the cards unless the entire batch can be seized and safely destroyed.

The HSE has urged health professionals to be on high alert and the Tallaght Drugs Task Force said that it will immediately alert drug users in the area to be vigilant.


It is suspected that one kilogram of high-purity heroin -- worth up to €200,000 -- was smuggled into Cork last weekend and was cut and sold off within days by dealers.

However, drug users were unaware that the heroin was of vastly higher purity than their normal supply.

The scale of the tragedy emerged when nine ambulances were called to at least five separate addresses across Cork in 24 hours to deal with drug-related collapses.

The two dead men were named locally last night as Gary O'Sullivan (30) from the Blackrock Road and Gavin Thompson (25) from Wolfe Tone Street in Gurranabraher.

Officers in Dublin were on high alert this weekend.

Dr Bobby Smyth, a Dublin based drugs psychiatrist, said there is a "serious possibility" that portions of the deadly batch will spread to the capital.

"Your average dose of heroin would have a 10pc chemical element. But with this batch, we could be looking at the chemical element being as high as 30pc -- that is potentially deadly. A person's system would not be able to cope with this mixture. It will cause you to stop breathing and eventually die."

Cork emergency consultant Dr Chris Luke described the deaths as a terrible tragedy.

"We are dealing with as many as nine ambulance calls for victims of what appears to be heroin in the last 24 hours -- it is an extraordinary number," he said.

"This is obviously a much more pure and concentrated form of heroin than what has been in the city before."