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Woman fourth victim in month of drug 'cocktail'

A 26-year-old woman died from the toxic effects of cocaine and PMA, the amphetamine known as Dr Death, an inquest heard.

Laura Richardson, of Bremore Pastures Crescent, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, was found collapsed on the kitchen floor by her fiance at the house they were staying in at Woodbine Road, Edenmore, on the afternoon of July 7 last year. The couple had been taking cocaine the night before.


This was the fourth inquest heard at Dublin Coroner's Court in the past month where death involved a 'cocktail' of cocaine, PMA and the stimulant benzylpiperazine. All four people died within a period of just over a month, starting with the June bank holiday weekend.

Ms Richardson's fiance John McLoughlin told the court that the day before her death, the couple had spent the evening taking "small amounts" of cocaine and drinking.

He said they used cocaine "on and off". It was left over from some they had bought three weeks previously.

He confirmed that there were "no untoward effects" when they had taken the cocaine three weeks before, and he did not see her take any tablets in the hours before her death.

Ms Richardson went to bed at 3am on the morning of her death while Mr McLoughlin stayed up. He said she woke up again at 7.30am and they had a few drinks together. Neighbour Aideen Cassidy came by at 11am to give them a cigarette and then he went to bed. Mr McLoughlin woke up at 3pm and came downstairs to find Ms Richardson lying on the ground in the kitchen.

"She looked dead," he said.

He began CPR and alerted Ms Cassidy to come and help, using her phone to call the emergency services. Paramedics took Ms Richardson to Beaumont Hospital where resuscitation proved unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead.

Ms Cassidy was the last person to see her alive. She had returned to the house at around midday after going to the shops. She said when she was in the house Ms Richardson started to get "a bit panicky" so she took her outside for air and she began to calm down. As she left, Ms Richardson told her she was going to have a rest.


Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said the toxicology screen showed evidence that Ms Richardson had taken cocaine contaminated with horse tranquilliser Levamisole as well as PMA, ecstasy and benzylpiperazine in addition to alcohol. She died from cardio-respiratory failure.

"These drugs are very unpredictable and then you add in cocaine and you have a situation where sudden adverse reactions can occur.

"We have seen a number of deaths recently with these combinations," he said.

A verdict of death by misadventure was recorded.