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Cambodia backpacker Martin Hale who died after taking morphine 'a very good son', says mum

By Laura Abernethy

Published 06/07/2016

Martin Stephen Hale
Martin Stephen Hale

The mother of a man who died in Cambodia after taking drugs in his hostel room has described him as a “very good son”.

Martin Stephen Hale (34), who was originally from Lisburn, was found dead on Friday.

The father-of-one had been travelling around south-east Asia for 10 weeks, and had recently met up with pal Dean McWilliams (22), from Antrim.

The men are believed to have went out in Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, on Thursday, after which they returned to the Happy Hotel Guesthouse.

Mr Hale suffered a heart attack and died after taking tablets believed to have contained morphine.

His mother, Theresa Temple, told BBC Radio Ulster: “He was a very good son. He was very kind-hearted to everybody.

“Martin went travelling and he rang me every day while he was there. He said it was a different life out there. He loved it and he would have loved to have settled.

“I heard (about his death) on Friday, when the police arrived. They said they had bad news for me and he had been found dead.

“I asked what had happened, but they said that things were a bit sketchy and they didn’t have the full information.

“I asked if he had been murdered, and they said there were no suspicious circumstances.

“Now I know that it was morphine tablets that he had taken, and they caused a heart attack.

“He did take drugs, and I was worried for him. I tried to advise him to get away from them, but it’s just one of those things.”

Mr McWilliams was taken to Calmette Hospital in an unconscious state. He checked himself out on Sunday and returned to the guesthouse to collect his belongings.

His family later issued a social media appeal to find him because they believed he had vanished without his passport or his mobile phone.

On Monday morning, a family friend said that he had been found and they hoped he would come home this week.

Neither man, both of whom were due to return home yesterday, had any holiday insurance, but the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust is working with Mr Hale’s family to help bring his body home to Northern Ireland later this week.

“The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust has been absolutely brilliant,” Ms Temple said.

“I just don’t know what we would have done without them. They have done everything that they can for us to help us get him back home. We have had so much support from family and friends. Martin knew everybody, and that shows you that he was really loved.

“It’s really upsetting for me to know that he won’t be coming home alive, but we hope to have him home by Saturday.”

Upper Bann MP David Simpson said he was working with the Foreign Office to help bring Mr Hale’s body home.

“The sudden death of someone so young is obviously a very traumatic and shocking time,” the DUP man added.

“The added complications of it happening so far away from home make it even more difficult for any family.

“I have been in contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to help with arrangements to ensure that his body can be returned to Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

“I would like to offer my condolences to Mr Hale’s friends and wider family circle, and I will continue to offer whatever support I can in the future.”

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