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Man died after taking lethal drugs in Ballina


Man died after taking overdose of illegal drugs in Ballina

Coroner says availability of lethal illegal drugs in Mayo towns is ‘horrifying’

Edwin McGreal

A leading Mayo coroner has called for greater government funding on drug policing after an inquest heard a 27-year-old man in Ballina died as a result of an overdose of illegal drugs.
Coroner for North Mayo Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald was speaking on Thursday at the inquest into the death of Italian national Alessio Schiavo (27) of 1, Tempany Apartments, Hill Street, Ballina, who died after taking an illegal drug known as para-methoxyamphetamime PMA.
Returning a death of misadventure due to intoxication from PMA, Dr Fitzgerald said she hoped ‘more can be done to prevent’ deaths like this, adding ‘I appeal to the Minister for Justice to invest more financial resources to try to remove this awful scourge’ from society.
The inquest heard that Mr Schiavo had taken three PMA tablets the day before he was found dead in his apartment in Ballina. Toxicology results from the post-mortem conducted by Dr Michael Curtis, the Deputy State Pathologist, revealed Mr Schiavo had up to six times the normal human limit of PMA in his system.

Drugs were freely available
One of the witnesses at the inquest, Ashley Stevens, a friend of the deceased, said Mr Schiavo ‘took drugs from time to time’ and that PMA was ‘not really hard to get in town’.
Dr Fitzgerald said that young people are ‘not aware’ of how ‘potentially lethal’ some of the drugs available on the street are.
“Sometimes the same drug will make you high and happy and other times the very same dose can kill you. There is no safe dosage of illegal drugs and it is horrifying that they are available in our towns,” she said.
Dr Fadel Bennani, who delivered the post-mortem results on behalf of Dr Curtis, said there were concentrations of other legal drugs in Mr Schiavo’s toxicology report. These could, he said, have been part of the mixture of the PMA.
“These drugs are sold on the street. People do not know what is in them. It is not as if they are labelled,” he said.
Dr Benani told the inquest that PMA ‘absorbs in the stomach very fast’. He said that the dosage of PMA that Mr Schiavo took would lead firstly to a high and hyperactivity, then to hallucination and, ultimately, collapse and death. This could, he said, help to explain damage in the apartment where Mr Schiavo’s body was found.
Mr Schiavo was found dead on Monday, September 30 last by his friend Ashley Stevens and another friend. Mr Stevens said he had been drinking with Mr Schiavo on the previous Saturday and Mr Schiavo had stayed over in Mr Stevens’s house.

‘Green yokes’
Mr Stevens said he phoned Mr Schiavo on Sunday at 7.30pm. Mr Schiavo told him he was at home and was feeling sick. He had ‘eight green yokes’, Mr Stevens said, and he told him he had taken three of them.
Mr Stevens told the inquest he told his friend to ‘throw them away’.
“I heard of people getting sick after taking them … I knew what them yokes were. It was all over Facebook a month before. It was not really hard to get them in town, but a month before in the paper I saw that a young one had died from them,” he said.
The next day Ashley Stevens and another friend called to Mr Schiavo’s apartment but there was no answer. They became concerned when they rang his phone and heard it ringing inside. They managed to get in and discovered Alessio Schiavo sitting on the couch and knew he was dead.
Garda Kevin Carey told the court that Alessio Schiavo’s friends had told him he was ‘a frequent user of illegal drugs’. He added that the apartment was ‘untidy’ so they ‘could not rule anything out’.
The scene was sealed off, but after the post-mortem and an examination of CCTV footage, which showed no one else entering the apartment, gardaí ruled out foul play. The verdict of misadventure indicated an accidental death caused by an action by the deceased which had an unintended outcome.
The inquest heard Alessio Schiavo had lived in Ballina for five years and had worked in a number of local restaurants but was unemployed at the time of his death. Dr Fitzgerald extended her sympathies to Alessio Schiavo’s family in Italy and to his former partner and their child in Ballina.