28/06/2007

Caravan park owner dies after drinking cocaine

The owner of a County Down caravan park died after drinking a mixture of cocaine and water over a six-hour period, an inquest has heard.

Rodney Gray, 33 had started to put the Class A drug into his drink after he had complained of a blocked nose, his widow Kathryn told Belfast Coroner’s Court.

“He used to snort it. It was only recently he swallowed,” she said.

The court also heard the father of three had been using the drug for four or five months, to try and relax from the stress and pressure of running the site in Millisle.

On the night of his death in August 2006, his arms and legs began to shake and his eyes glazed over. He then lay on the couple’s bed in an attempt to overcome the reaction, and at one stage embraced Mrs Gray, she said.

However, when he started to foam at the mouth and his skin changed colour an ambulance was called. His wife unsuccessfully attempted to resuscitate him.

Coroner John Lecky said he had never heard of the cocaine being swallowed with water, and asked for any possible explanation for the unusual method.

She replied, saying she also thought it was strange, and added: “He was in the middle of a lot of work to an area of the caravan park; there was an anniversary party the following Saturday and there was a lot to be done.”

Mr Lecky also said there was no evidence that Mr Gray had suffered an adverse reaction before.

“Although it’s known to be taken for recreational purposes, it’s a high risk activity and death would not be unexpected, even though the person might have taken cocaine without any problems on previous occasions,” he said.

The Coroner concluded that the cause of death had been poisoning by cocaine.

(JM)

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