Suspected drug victims include mother-of-two

Andrea McKernon

A MOTHER-OF-TWO is suspected to have fallen victim to a batch of killer drugs on sale in the north.

A toxicology report is due following the death of Catherine Gibson the weekend before last in the loyalist Ballysally estate in Coleraine.

She was the mother of an eight-year-old and also a two-year-old.

Her death is part of the investigation into the distribution of class A drugs bearing the logo of a crown or castle being peddled as 'green Rolex' and 'red chariots'.

Chief medical officer Michael McBride issued an alert concerning param ethoxyamphetamine (PMA), a highly toxic drug that is similar to ecstasy but does not take effect as quickly.

Dr McBride said his office had not yet established what the substance was or whether it was related to the latest spate of sudden deaths.

The PSNI said it had no powers to order the removal of a Facebook site selling a drug linked to the deaths of the eight people.

None of the suspected drug victims has been officially named.

However, reports suggest that among the unexplained deaths being investigated are those of Alan McKenzie of east Belfast's Ravenhill Road, Gareth Morrison of Sandy Row in south Belfast, Andrew McCann of east Belfast and Jim Owens of west Belfast's Shankill area.

Another two victims, one believed to be from south Belfast's Ormeau Road area, have not been identified.

Most of the victims come from loyalist areas and some of the suspected victims from Belfast are believed to have connections with the UDA and UVF.

It is believed a man and a woman were treated after taking the drug but were released from hospital later.

A Facebook site selling 'green Rolex' for £10 for one tablet and three for £20 has been reported to police by drug prevention groups in Belfast.

"Police have no authority to close Facebook pages," a police spokesman said last night.

East Derry assembly mem

ber John Dallat hit out at loyalists "for leaving two children aged eight and two without a mother".

The SDLP politician called on anyone considering using illegal drugs to think before they placed their lives in jeopardy.

"The local community in Ballysally is devastated by the death of Catherine Gibson who I believe was not involved in drug dealing but was the unfortunate victim who happened to be in the wrong company last weekend when she died," Mr Dallat said.

"Unfortunately she may not be the last if more of this lethal batch of death drugs are in circulation.

"There is no way of knowing just how widespread these drugs are but people need to take the advice of the police and the health authorities to reject them."

Mr Dallat said it seemed that "local drug dealers" had not sold the drugs to Ms Gibson but "that doesn't mean they haven't got the killer tabs in their stocks as well".


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