A CORONER at the inquest of a Tyrone man who died from the toxic effects of cocaine has called for action to address the growing number of drug-related deaths in the North.
Omagh Coroners Court was told by Patrick McGurgan that the ‘absolute dangers’ of taking the drug needed to be highlighted.
Mr McGurgan was delivering his findings into the death of 34-year-old Mark Leslie Hay, from Cookstown, in May last year.
It was one of three connected to drugs within weeks of each other.
Speaking at the conclusion of the one-day inquest, Mr McGurgan described Mr Hay as a ‘healthy young man’ who did not intend to die.
“Anyone taking drugs such as cocaine does not really realise the effects that it has on the human body,” he said.
“Drug-related deaths in Northern Ireland are on the rise, both from illicit and prescription drugs.”
Something really needs to be done to try and tackle this problem.
“I want to make a plea to the members of the public before they engage in taking drugs to think again and to try and get help with their addiction.
“My hope from this inquest is that those who indulge in taking cocaine realise that it is the road to death and I cannot be more clearer than that.”
The inquest was told that on the evening of May 27 last year, Mark Hay, was found lying on his back in the kitchen of a property in Northland Street, Moneymore.
PSNI Detective Constable, Pauline McCalmont, who is based in Cookstown, said that residue of cocaine and a set of scales were discovered at the property.
Cash to the value of £2,650 in bank notes was discovered in a cupboard in the kitchen.
The Detective Constable said that the presence of a plastic bag and scales led them to conclude that there may have been drug-dealing going on in the house.
A second man in the house at the time, Craig Watterson, who made the 999 call, received treatment at the scene before being taken to hospital.
He was subsequently interviewed by police but made no comment when questioned about the circumstances of what had happened.
Watterson had been requested to attend the inquest and was fined £1,000 when he failed to appear.
Mr McGurgan said that the non-appearance of Mr Watterson meant that the family of the deceased were unable to piece together the final hours of their son and brother’s life.
Mr Hay’s mother, Sylvia Hay, said her son had worked as a production operative at the bacon factory in Cookstown and that, while he had issues with anxiety, depression and agitation, he was in no way suicidal.