Toxic drug killed Larne 20-year-old

A CORONER conducting an inquest into the death of a 20-year-old Larne man said young people had no idea of the impact of drugs like the now-banned stimulant mephedrone.

“This is something that is of increasing concern to me, day after day dealing with these cases,” said Brian Sherrard, who found that Martin Morrow died in April, 2010 from mephedrone toxicity.

“It seems there is a naivety out there that people can take these substances, which seem unfortunately to have become all too commonplace, without there being any comeback and sadly Martin is a very real example of where there has been a very tragic comeback, not just for him but for his entire family,” the coroner remarked at a hearing in Belfast on Tuesday.

Mr Morrow was one of the first people in Northern Ireland to die after taking mephedrone, which was legally available at the time he died.

Mephedrone produces an effect similar to Ecstasy. It is sold as a white powder, which is usually snorted, and last year it became a Class B drug across the UK, following public concern about its use and not least in Larne where a new group, Preventing Addiction Larne, was set up in the days after Mr Morrow’s death.

Emma Graffin, Mr Morrow’s girlfriend and mother of their daughter, who was born after the tragedy, told the inquest mephedrone had been cheaply accessed in Larne and via the internet. His mother, Isobel Morrow, said: “We lost our wee boy to the first drug he took. He went and we could not get him back.”

Mr Morrow was taken to hospital after turning blue during a party at a ground-floor Seacourt Road flat. Assistant state pathologist Dr Alistair Bentley said the deceased’s blood had an exceptionally high level of mephedrone, which doctors confirmed left him suffering from very high temperatures and prevented his blood from clotting.

Mr Morrow, from Old Glenarm Road, started taking mephedrone in late 2009. His mother and his partner had tried to support him but there had been instances when he disappeared to party for days on end while on ecstasy, cocaine, speed or mephedrone.

His mother said he was an immature but happy child who became increasingly addicted.

“I knew six months before he died he was in trouble and that is why I kept picking him up, I did not turn him away,” she said.

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Ms Graffin added that her partner had bought the mephedrone at a “head shop” in Larne and after it was shut, switched to a dealer.

“From December, there was a lot of mephedrone about and that was what he was taking. It was cheap and if you bought it off the internet, the more you bought the cheaper it was,” she said.

Ms Graffin explained that Martin had nose bleeds and skin ailments arising from his addiction but did not accept that he had a problem.

His friend, Karl Ashe, was with the victim on the night of his death, when what he thought were Ecstasy and cocaine were among other drugs available at the flat. The first sign of trouble was when Mr Morrow went to lie down, then started shaking on the sofa, he told the inquest.

“He was just pure blue and he could not talk,” the witness said.

When ambulance staff arrived they attempted to stabilise him and delivered the casualty to Antrim Area Hospital, where doctors struggled to bring his temperature down and blood pressure up. His blood started to haemorrhage into his abdomen and he never regained consciousness, the inquest was told.