One of Northern Ireland’s leading nightclubs has been criticised for its failure to crack down on drug users on its premises after a customer died of an overdose, an inquest has heard.
There have been repeated reports of substance misuse at Mynt in Belfast's city centre dating back over a year, police said. It is not known if the abuse happened in the club or outside.
Bernard McDonagh (32) died earlier this year after taking cocaine and ecstasy during an all-night session which included the popular club. He continued on to a party in south Belfast and collapsed the next morning.
Club doormen have reported the general problem of drugs to police after conducting searches.
Senior coroner John Leckey told the Belfast hearing: “There must be considerable responsibility placed on the proprietors of the club to do their best to enforce a no-drugs policy.”
He added later: “I am concerned to hear that the problem still persists and that one person has died.”
Mr McDonagh, from Hunters Mill in Downpatrick, died at his friend Gerard Stitt's house in Belfast on January 8.
The taxi driver attended the party in Donnybrook Street with a group of friends after leaving Mynt in the early hours of the morning.
It was as Mr Stitt was calling a relative to take Mr McDonagh home at around 8am that morning that he collapsed in the kitchen and paramedics were unable to restart his heart.
Constable Lynsey Pyne said she had attended the club to deal with drug-related incidents over a year before. She said police could not monitor searching of people coming into the club, and many people tended to take drugs before they go in.
For a while police were receiving calls from door staff who had found people in the club with controlled substances, she added, saying there had been no reports for a long time.
“It is a problem but I don't know how we can tackle it without having people in there constantly trying to monitor the passing on of drugs or the taking of drugs,” she said.
Mr Leckey said that the death was accidental but not unavoidable.
“It had all to do with his lifestyle,” he told Mr McDonagh's wife Anne Marie.
“With the licensing hours there is no alcohol served after 1am, but there seems to be a large crowd that does attend Mynt nightclub. We believe that it is a place that people would attend and regularly take drugs, whether they take it in there or prior to attending.”
PSNI Constable Lynsey Pyne