Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

More arrests 'imminent' in Katy French drug death probe

Katy French died just a week after her 24th birthday
Katy French died just a week after her 24th birthday
Katy French died just a week after her 24th birthday

Irish detectives investigating the death of Katy French expect to make more arrests in the coming weeks after the model's cocaine dealer was given a two-year suspended jail sentence last Tuesday.

Inquiries have advanced on foot of a detailed statement made by Russell Memery, 25, who admitted his role in delivering cocaine to the model hours before she collapsed of a suspected drug overdose.

The former crane driver pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply cocaine and claimed to be a bit player in the transaction. But his testimony, along with mobile phone records, is thought to be crucial to the next stage of the investigation into the model's death.

Ms French collapsed in the house of her friend, Kieron Ducie and his girlfriend, Ann Corcoran, in December 2007 and died four days later of a suspected drug overdose. The toxicology report found cocaine, traces of codeine and other substances that could not be identified.

Mr Ducie, who works for the family transport company, and his girlfriend, insisted that no drugs were taken in their presence that night.

He said that Ms French and Ms Corcoran spent the night drinking champagne and red bull at his house in Kilmessan, Co Meath. They were chatting and drinking until Mr Ducie arrived home at 6am, and they claimed that soon afterwards, French collapsed.

The couple rushed her to a local hospital at 10.10am. But Ms French who had suffered numerous seizures, fell into a coma and died four days later. A post mortem found she died of irreversible brain damage and her family asked gardai to investigate the circumstances of her death.

However, in his statement to gardai, Memery offered another version of events. He claimed that on the night before Ms French collapsed he received a call from Mr Ducie at around 11.45pm.

He claimed that he acquired the cocaine from a "third party" but claimed that he was too frightened to name this person.

He asked a friend to drive him to the arranged pick-up point in a petrol station in Clonee where Ms French was waiting for him.

Memery claimed he got directions to the service station by mobile phone.

The transaction took place at the Statoil garage where Memery got into Ms French's jeep and handed over the drugs in exchange for €200. Memery claimed that afterwards, he gave the money to the mysterious "third party" who supplied him with the cocaine.

He next heard from Mr Ducie the following morning. Phone records show that he called Memery shortly after 10am, while he was driving the seriously ill Ms French to hospital in the back of his jeep. Memery later claimed that he wanted to know "what was in the cocaine".

Both Mr Ducie and Ms Corcoran have denied any knowledge of drugs in the hours before Ms French's collapse. They were arrested and questioned by gardai and both were released without charge.

In a book purporting to chart the model's last days, Mr Ducie claimed that during the panicked drive to the hospital he accidentally dialled a friend's number as he rushed the model to hospital, but hung up and went on to dial the emergency services.

He has also denied claims that he delayed bringing the Ms French to hospital to give him time to clean the house. According to his account, he arrived home at 6.45am.

They stayed up for another couple of hours and Ms French eventually went to bed after 9am. Fifteen minutes later, they heard a crash as she fell to the floor.

They did not delay before putting her into the jeep and rushing her to hospital. Mr Ducie said he did not dial 999 because he lived 20 minutes from the hospital and it was quicker to drive.

Ms French was one of Ireland's most successful and provocative models at the time of her death, having featured in reality television shows and made headlines with outspoken interviews.

The file on Ms French's death is with the Director of Public Prosecutions who is expected to direct whether more charges should follow in the coming weeks.

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