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Coagh man’s death ‘tragic accident’ after painkiller overdose

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A COAGH man whose father was killed by the SAS almost 40 years ago died after taking a prescription drug 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, an inquest has heard.

Darren Taylor, a 39-year-old father-of-two, was found in his flat in Hanover Mews on 21st November last year.

He passed away just weeks after 21-year-old Amy Reid, from Cookstown, had died in the same flat.

Abuse of the prescription drug fentanyl, which is normally used to treat severe pain suffered by cancer patients, has been a factor in other deaths, the inquest heard.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram said an autopsy showed the unemployed joiner's death was due to the "toxic effects of fentanyl" and there was a "high level of the opioid painkiller in his blood stream".

He said: "It is a drug which is being abused in the community. It was obviously obtained from an illicit source, and the fact he was not being prescribed the medication may suggest he was naive to the drug."

Mr Taylor's mother, Margaret McCollum, revealed he had battled with depression and drug addiction and had previously talked about "leaving notes", but said he had "seemed very good" in their last telephone conversation three days prior to his death.

She said she had contacted her son regarding a visit to see his three-year-old boy at a contact centre, but received no response.

Detective Constable Paul Robinson attended Mr Taylor's flat on the day of his discovery and gave evidence to the inquest.

He said he seized boxes bearing both Mr Taylor's and Andrew Harkness' name at the scene.

Referring to other deaths in the area, including that of Miss Reid, he said: "Locally we have seen an increase in fentanyl-related deaths. Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to say exactly where it is being obtained from or who is providing it."

Mr Harkness said after he and Mr Taylor had collected their prescriptions on 18th November, they went to Mr Taylor's flat, where Mr Harkness took some of his own medication.

He said he left his empty boxes at Mr Taylor's flat and brought his tablets with him, before going to his grandmother's house, where Mr Taylor later joined him.

Mr Harkness said that, after Mr Taylor went home, he "couldn't get any answer" to his calls and texts that weekend, and he then found Mr Taylor's body on 21st November.

Following questions from the coroner, Mr Harkness said he had never discussed taking fentanyl with Mr Taylor and had never seen him take it.

Pharmacist Claire O'Brien, who entered his flat following the discovery of Mr Taylor's body, said she had last seen him on 18th November when he had collected his prescriptions. She said he hadn't been prescribed fentanyl.

A written statement by Dr Laura Murray was read to the inquest, revealing Mr Taylor had been admitted to Holywell Hospital in 2015 and had a history of methedrone and heroin misuse.

Coroner Patrick McGurgan said he was "satisfied that Darren did not intend to take his own life" and his death was "a tragic accident".

"I am faced with a tidal wave of drug deaths to deal with. There are going to be more mothers like Mrs McCollum coming to court to tell me about their loved ones passing away because of this scourge."

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