More deaths 'down to banned highs'
More young people are dying from recently outlawed legal highs in Northern Ireland, a coroner said.
A newly-banned substance with traits similar to ecstasy caused the death of unemployed joiner Declan Davidson, in Co Armagh, an inquest heard.
The victim, 41, was found collapsed in his kitchen in Bessbrook last autumn after a drink and drug-fuelled party.
Coroner Jim Kitson said: "Coroners have seen more examples of young people dying suddenly at the hands of these substances."
He told the Newry inquest: "The scourge of drug abuse is an ever-increasing problem in Northern Ireland."
He said the cause of death was methylethcathinone toxicity. The drug is a white powder banned in 2010, which Mr Davidson's girlfriend saw him sniffing the night before he died.
Mr Kitson added: "Wholly unregulated, purchased on the street or over the internet, ingesting the illegal drugs can have fatal consequences and that is well-demonstrated in this case."
Mr Davidson, who suffered depression, died at home at Father Cullen Park last October. He was discovered on the floor slumped against a radiator by his partner Nicola Martin following a night drinking with friends.
Assistant state pathologist Dr James Lyness said his heartbeat may have been disrupted. "The effects of the drug are fairly unpredictable," he told the inquest, adding it was quite a new substance.
"It has strong common traits with amphetamine-type, ecstasy drugs, those type of drugs can cause arrhythmias of the heart and epileptic-type seizures," he said.