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IT worker who died after consuming lethal liquid ecstasy could not have been a better son, family tell inquest quest

By Alan Preston

Published 09/04/2016

Shane Mullan was described as being a ‘perfect friend’
Shane Mullan was described as being a ‘perfect friend’

The parents and friends of a 28-year-old Londonderry man who died after an accidental drug overdose have warned about the dangers of a substance known as liquid ecstasy.

Shane Mullan, a successful IT consultant described as "a perfect friend", had just been on a night out with his friends in Belfast when he died on July 31 last year.

He avoided drinking that evening, but after returning to his Belfast apartment took a fatal overdose of a chemical he bought online to help him sleep. Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate, also known as GHB or liquid ecstasy, is normally used for car cleaning and is not meant for human ingestion.

His last words were a text message to his friend James Burke at 2.21am thanking him for a lift home and saying he was looking forward to meeting him along with his sister Joanne Mullan that Saturday.

His mother Celine Mullan reported him missing the next day when he failed to turn up for work. Harbour police were alerted and entered his apartment on the Queens Road and found him lifeless in his bed.

At an inquest yesterday, coroner Suzanne Anderson ruled his death was accidental and a result of "toxic effects of Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate otherwise known as GHB or liquid ecstasy."

The court heard that Shane had a troubled history of anxiety, depression, drug misuse and had attempted suicide at least twice.

However, the coroner said: "On this occasion I believe that this was an accidental death. We've heard no evidence of preparation of death, a suicide note, on the contrary we've heard he was in good spirits and he was making plans for the future." Shane's mother told the inquest: "All I can say is he was my son and I loved him. There wasn't a bad bone in his body. He touched so many hearts."

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after the inquest, Shane's father John Mullan said that he "couldn't have had a better son". His mother added: "I was talking to him that night, I talked to him every day and every night. I knew he and James were going out, I knew they weren't drinking.

It was a shock to hear he was taking GHB. I knew he had smoked cannabis, but I'm shocked. Anything he tried, it was to help him relax and fight his demons." Mr Burke who had left Shane home that night said that as a friend "he was everything".

"You can't really put it into words, you only realise how much they mean when they're actually gone. He was the happiest I'd ever seen him and he definitely had plans for the future. I don't think anyone realises how dangerous something (like GHB) can be."

Constable Gale Kane from Belfast Harbour police had investigated Shane's death.

She said GHB was not commonly used in Northern Ireland but had been related to a number of recent deaths in England. She warned that even the smallest doses could prove fatal.

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