Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Man died after three GPs gave him tablets

A homeless man died from a drug overdose days after being prescribed tablets by up to three different doctors, an inquest heard has heard.

Sean Joseph Mooney was found dead in the bedroom of a Belfast city centre hostel on April 20, 2005 — just a week after he had been released from prison.

A post-mortem found he died as a result of pneumonia which was aggravated by a number of prescription drugs found in his system.

Belfast coroner Brian Sherrard halted proceedings after confusion arose over the number of doctors Mr Mooney visited in the days before his death.

Both Mr Rooney’s sister and a probation officer, who knew him for over 15 years, told the inquest they believed his death was accidental.

Claudine Mooney told Belfast Coroner’s Court that her older brother had been unhappy staying at the Salvation Army hostel as it was in close proximity to the spot where his mother had been knocked down and killed some years earlier.

However, she said that in the days leading up to his death he had been in good spirits.

“I think it was an accident. I don’t think he meant to do it,” Ms Mooney said.

The court heard that 30-year-old Mr Rooney was prescribed a range of drugs, including diazepam and dihydrocodeine, as a result of a number of paramilitary-style attacks, including a shooting when he was a teenager.

Ms Mooney admitted that while her older brother had tried to come off the prescriptions drugs, he still suffered pain and anxiety as a result of the attacks and relied on the medication to help him cope.

However, it also emerged during the hearing that Mr Rooney had a long history of solvent abuse and it was believed he may also have taken illegal drugs.

John Warren, a member of the Probation Service who had worked with Mr Mooney for most of his adult life, said: “Sean would have had a glue sniffing problem and would have been prepared to take any sort of drugs.

“Claudine was very good to him during a difficult time but he still kept abusing drugs and I believe that he had bought drugs illegally,” said Mr Warren.

“I saw him in the city centre and he was with a female and they were both on drugs.”

However, he added: “I feel that the way he died was probably just an accident. I don’t think he would have planned to do it.”

Adjourning proceedings to allow further investigation, Mr Sherrard said: “I want to be entirely sure about what happened.

“It may not make any difference to my formal conclusion but it then may make a difference to how I invite the CSA to look at procedures for multiple registration.”

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