Coroner warns of 'tidal wave of deaths' involving young people and drugs

Steven Coyle was a father of two
Steven Coyle was a father of two Steven Coyle was a father of two

A CORONER at the inquest into the death of a 27-year-old Derry man has said that he is dealing with "a tidal wave of deaths involving young people and drugs".

Steven Coyle, a father-of-two from Duddy's Court, in Derry, died on October 27 last year from a cocktail of prescription medication.

He was found dead sitting on the sofa in his living-room by his step-father.

A report from a pathologist said that none of the 11 drugs in his system were at a dangerous level, but the combination had caused complications leading to death. Drugs found included diazepam, morphine and codeine, however, cocaine was also detected.

The victim's mother Pamela Coyle said that she was aware her son was a drug-taker but on the three days running up to his death she had said he "looked very unwell and seemed very distant."

She told how drugs had changed her son's behaviour.

"He didn't respond to me how he used to respond to me. I knew he was taking drugs a couple of days a week...then he would go back to normal."

She added: "I tried my best with him and he started getting into bother so I phoned the police and got him arrested and put into jail, thinking that would help him. He tried many times to get help but he just kept falling back."

The inquest heard that Mr Coyle had been electronically tagged and was out on bail at the time of his death.

Ms Coyle said that on the day her son's body was found he had failed to show up for a court appearance and his solicitor had contacted her.

She said that she tried to contact him but his phone was turned off and she had a feeling that something was wrong.

Ms Coyle gave the spare key to her partner and said: "I hope you know before you go in, Steven's dead."

Diarmuid Hampsey discovered his body when he entered his flat at around 11pm.

Describing the moment he saw his step-son he said: "I could see him from the hall. He was sitting in an upright position and there was no response when I called his name.

"I knew by the look on his face and the colour of his body it was all over."

Mr Coyle's GP, Dr Michael Healy, said his patient had been drug and alcohol dependant and had been prescribed a number of different medications for depression, anxiety, stomach problems, back pain, asthma and hay fever.

He had also been prescribed sleeping tablets, which were later stopped, but he admitted to his doctor he was buying them or taking relatives' pills.

A pathologist who carried out the post mortem said the level of drugs in Mr Coyle's body would not have be enough to cause death on their own, but combined they caused complications leading to respiratory difficulties aggravated by pre-existing bronchopneumonia.

Coroner Patrick McGurgan said he was convinced Mr Coyle had not intended to take his own life but spoke of his concerns about the number of drug deaths he was dealing with.

"I am dealing with a tidal wave of deaths involving young people and drugs. They can buy them off the internet and there's no way to police this," he said.

"You just cannot take drugs that are not prescribed by your doctor. If you are going to do this, you are going to end up dead."

He told Ms Coyle that through her son's story, she could inform the public about the "hurt and trauma" that drugs had been caused her family.

He added: "People need to understand that drugs lead you to my court and when it leads to my court that means death."