Tuesday 20 February 2018

Coroner warns about dangers of alcohol

The late Anthony Furlong
The late Anthony Furlong

COUNTY WEXFORD Coroner Dr Sean Nixon issued a strong warning about the dangers of excessive drinking after two inquests in New Ross heard that people died having consumed toxic levels of alcohol.

The first involved Michael Sutton (69), of 1 Abbeyview, Campile, who died on November 3 last year.

Inspector Derek Hughes read a statement from Andy Berney, in which he recalled drinking with Mr Sutton at the old Campile railway station on that day. He said he was drinking cider and Mr Sutton was drinking vodka. The men walked home that evening and Mr Hughes saw his friend walk into his house.

He learned the following day that Mr Sutton had died.

Mr Sutton's nephew, Denis Sutton, said his brother Jackie rang him to ask him to come to their uncle's house the following day. Upon arrival he found his uncle lying on the ground, unresponsive. He formally identified Mr Sutton to Garda David Ryan.

Pathologist Dr Maurice Murphy said he performed a post-mortem examination on Mr Sutton the following day at Waterford Regional Hospital. Toxicology reports found that he had consumed a lethal amount of alcohol.

Dr Murphy said death was due to a heart attack which followed a lethal level of alcohol consumption.

Dr Nixon said death was due to acute alcohol poisoning. 'The levels were well within the lethal range and also he had severe heart disease which wasn't the cause of death but it was probably going to cause problems.'

Dr Nixon recommended a verdict of death by misadventure, saying the death wasn't intentional.

'He may have had levels like that in his system previously and had been lucky to survive.'

He sympathised with the Sutton family on their loss, as did inspector Derek Hughes on behalf of the Gardaí.

The inquest of 25-year-old Anthony (Bart) Lucitt Furlong of 9 Barnsfield, Ramsgrange heard how he also died from a lethal level of alcohol.

A statement from his friend Brendan Eite was read at the inquest and it recalled how Bart went out drinking that day in Cassagh at around 3 p.m. on August 13 last year, having been out fishing with Mr Eite and Dylan Cunningham.

Mr Eite said Mr Furlong was drinking pints of beer and Jagermeister drinks. The friends went on to Campile where they had a few drinks, and the deceased had a bottle of whiskey with him. Mr Eite said he returned to the Furlong house in Ramsgrange at around 1 am, adding that when he left, his firend was lying on the couch in the sitting room.

The deceased's father, Ned, said in evidence that his son returned at around 1 am and fell asleep on the couch. He was also in the room and he noticed that his son had stopped snoring.

'I called 999 and someone instructed me to perform CPR, which I did until the guards and the ambulance arrived.'

Mr Furlong said he was told by a doctor that his son had passed away.

Garda Karen Kehoe said she was notified of a death in Ramsgrange at 3.15 a.m. She attended the scene where she found the deceased's remains, which were taken to the mortuary at Waterford Regional Hospital.

Dr Robert Landers said he performed an autopsy on August 14. He said there was a toxic level of alcohol in his blood and said death was due to acute alcohol toxicity.

Dr Nixon said: 'It was a very tragic death; a young man out for a day's enjoyment and the cause is a heart attack due to a toxic level of alcohol.'

He recommended a verdict of death by misadventure, saying the deceased didn't go out that day with any intention of dying but he took an unnecessary risk by consuming an extremely high amount of alcohol.

Jury foreperson Mary Mernagh extended the sympathies of the inquest jury to the Furlong and Lucitt families.

Dr Nixon said: 'If there is a message here to other young people it is to realise that alcohol is extremely dangerous. We often think in terms of illicit drugs being extremely dangerous but alcohol is also a major factor in the deaths of young people.'

Both he and Inspector Derek Hughes extended their condolences to the family on their tragic loss.

New Ross Standard

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