Northern Ireland news

Police issue drugs warning after man dies and another seriously ill in Co Derry

Mark Hay died after falling ill at a house on Northland Road, Moneymore

A MAN whose death in Co Derry has prompted police to issue a warning about drugs has been named locally as Mark Hay.

The 34-year-old died and another man aged 26 remains in a serious condition in hospital after they are believed to have fallen ill at a house in Moneymore.

Police believe a number of other people may have sought medical attention after the "consumption of drugs" at the terraced property on Northland Road on Sunday night.

A police presence remained at the scene in Moneymore yesterday with police tape surrounding the house where the man is understood to have taken ill.

It is understood the victim was from Cookstown in Co Tyrone and was known to police.

He had been facing a trial for unlawful and malicious wounding in 2016, but the case collapsed in February this year after the prosecution offered no evidence.

Neighbours are understood to be shocked by the suspected drugs-linked death in their community.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Brian Foster said investigations into the circumstances of the man's death are continuing.

"While a post-mortem examination has yet to take place to determine the cause of this tragic death a possible link to drug or substance abuse is a strong line of enquiry," he said.

"A 26-year-old man remains in hospital where his condition is described as serious.

"Our investigation is at an early stage but we believe that drugs may be a factor in both incidents.

"We also believe that a number of other people may have sought medical attention last night after becoming unwell following the consumption of drugs."

Mr Foster also issued a warning to the public about taking drugs.

"We would strongly advise anyone considering taking any type of substance not to do so," he said.

"Our advice is very simple: Do not take illegal drugs; do not take prescription medication that has not been prescribed for you and do not mix either with alcohol.

"The consequences of ignoring this advice can be life-threatening."

SDLP assembly member Patsy McGlone said the death should act as a warning to anyone about the dangers of drugs.

"I would warn people to avoid drugs at all costs. Unfortunately we have seen a fatality and this can be one of the outcomes of taking drugs," he said.

DUP MLA Keith Buchanan described the death as a "tragedy" and said: "It is very concerning that a number of people in the area have sought medical attention following taking drugs.

"The message must be very clear – any drug can kill but this incident highlights that no-one can ever be certain what is in a drug they may take.

"I hope that those who have received treatment will make a full recovery and anyone who is concerned about a substance they have taken should seek medical attention.

"People should assist the police with any information they have about drugs and help them to keep our streets safer and free from these deadly substances."

The victim is survived by his mother Sylvia, and siblings Lee, Lynsey, Rodney and William.

His funeral service is due to take place at Derryloran Parish Church, followed by burial in Cookstown Cemetery. A date for the funeral has yet to be confirmed.

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