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Caravan wrecking painkiller addict jailed

By Nevin Farrell

Published 02/08/2016

A Belfast tour guide addicted to tramadol who wrecked a holiday caravan had, a short time before, found a homeless woman dead on the streets of the city, a court has heard
A Belfast tour guide addicted to tramadol who wrecked a holiday caravan had, a short time before, found a homeless woman dead on the streets of the city, a court has heard

A Belfast tour guide addicted to tramadol who wrecked a holiday caravan had, a short time before, found a homeless woman dead on the streets of the city, a court has heard.

James Edwards (25), of Parkmount Street in north Belfast, fell out with his partner and broke crockery and caused damage totalling £200 to a caravan in Castlerock, Coleraine Magistrates Court was told.

A defence lawyer said before the incident Edwards had found the body of the homeless woman, whom he had known.

And two months before the Castlerock incident the defendant's mother had died, which "accelerated" his addiction to the prescription painkiller, the court heard.

After smashing up the caravan Edwards drove off in his partner's car.

He pleaded guilty to charges of criminal damage, taking a vehicle without authority, not having insurance to drive the vehicle, and not having a driving licence.

A prosecutor said that at 12.30am on May 2 this year there was a domestic dispute in the caravan and after causing damage Edwards made off.

A defence lawyer said his client made a "stupid decision to get out of there" and fully regretted his actions.

The lawyer said Edwards is engaged to his partner and they have two children.

Edwards, who appeared before the court via video-link from Maghaberry Prison, was jailed for three months, banned from driving for a year and fined £100.

Last week the public was warned about the lethal dangers of everyday prescription pills which are claiming young lives across Northern Ireland.

A senior coroner told of his concern over the scourge of people buying tramadol off the street.

The painkiller now accounts for 40% of all drug-related deaths.

The prescription medication, which is usually given to patients after surgery, is being sold for as little as £1 per tablet on the street.

Coroner Joe McCrisken made the warning as he presided over the inquests of three young people who had all died after taking prescription pills mixed with other drugs.

Mr McCrisken said that even small amounts of tramadol taken with alcohol could have deadly consequences, as the combined effect shut down breathing and induced a coma.

The coroner and acting State Pathologist Professor Jack Crane are to submit a formal request to the Chief Medical Officer to reduce the number of prescriptions for tramadol and have it classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act, making it illegal to possess.

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