‘Drugs took over his life, there was nothing we could do’
The father of a teenage boy who died after taking mephedrone has made an impassioned plea to young people not to throw their lives away on drugs.
Ryan McElwee (17), from Limavady in Co Londonderry, died after taking what is believed to be a new derivative of mephedrone at a house party last weekend.
Just 24 hours after laying his son to rest, John Duffy said the blame for his death lies with those who introduced him to drugs when he was just 11.
He said: “You can get drugs in this town like you can get sweets in a shop.
“They are everywhere and Ryan didn't have to go too far away from this estate to get the cannabis he took from he was a first year at school.
“This was when he started going off the rails and no matter what we said or did, the drugs took over his life and we couldn't get through to him.
“It wasn't long before the cannabis lead to mephedrone.
“He just couldn't get enough of it, and really it's the ones who started him on the drugs who are to blame for him ending up the way he did.
“There's plenty of boys around who don't give a damn what the drugs do to you, they will sell it to you regardless of the consequences.”
The heartbroken father said he and others tried to help Ryan, but the drugs had too strong a hold.
“Ryan did have friends who knew he was too heavy on the drugs and they tried to get him to stop, same as us, but while Ryan would have given you the impression he was listening, because he wouldn't have wanted to hurt you, nothing went in.
“He just wanted more and more of the stuff but he realised too the hold they had on him and recently he would say wee things that made me think he wanted to be rid of them. Like, he would say, ‘Daddy, I would need to sort myself out, wouldn't I?'
“But then he would disappear and we wouldn't see him for maybe three or four days, and we knew he was partying.
“I remember once I saw him when he was out of it and I nearly cried just looking at him.
“I wouldn't want any other parent to go through what we are going through now, but if Ryan's death made even one young person stop taking drugs then it would make a difference to us.”
Mr Duffy was woken in the early hours of Saturday morning by a phone call from one of Ryan's friends telling him that the teenager had been rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital and warning him to expect the worst.
He said: “When your phone rings at 4am, you know it's not good and we went straight to the hospital, but even though they tried everything they could, they had no starting point. Ryan was dead before he left that house as far as we know.”