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Mum tells inquest of futile battle to save son following accidental overdose

By Allan Preston

Published 23/07/2016

Danny Tumilty was 25 when he died in his Cavehill Road flat in Belfast on October 8 last year.
Danny Tumilty was 25 when he died in his Cavehill Road flat in Belfast on October 8 last year.

A Belfast mother has spoken of her desperate fight to save her son's life after she discovered him struggling to breathe following an accidental drugs overdose.

Danny Tumilty was 25 when he died in his Cavehill Road flat in Belfast on October 8 last year. He had taken a deadly cocktail of prescription methadone and poor-quality diazepam bought from the street.

An inquest in Belfast yesterday heard that his mother, Ann Tumilty, had found him unwell in bed. She called an ambulance and her daughter, Maria, before performing emergency CPR.

When paramedics arrived, attempts to resuscitate him continued, but Mr Tumilty was pronounced dead at 1.10am.

Coroner Paddy McGurgan ruled that he had died "of the toxic effects of methadone and diazepam".

During the hearing, his mother was able to ask questions of State Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram. She said: "What bothers me about that day is that he took the methadone and the diazepam very close together.

"He took 25 diazepam first because he was scared of not getting his (methadone) prescription that day.

"The coroner's office said it was a low level of diazepam. Could there have been some other drug he had taken?"

Dr Ingram answered: "I think it could have been that the quality of drugs he had purchased was poor and the amount of Valium in each individual drug was virtually minimal."

Mrs Tumilty continued: "It's just hard to accept because for years he's been doing that."

Dr Ingram assured her the combination of drugs was to blame, saying: "You just don't know. There's no test for tolerance to drugs or alcohol. There's nothing you can do to say how tolerant, at a precise moment in time, an individual will be."

Before reading his findings, Coroner Paddy McGurgan said: "It's clear from listening to the evidence, particularly from Danny's mum, Ann, that he was clearly a very much-loved son and brother.

"I'm firmly of the opinion that no mother should have to bury her son. Danny was only 25, but unfortunately, like so many others in society, he succumbed to the scourge that is drugs."

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph afterwards, Mrs Tumilty, from north Belfast, said: "I knew it was the drugs that killed him.

"It's Russian roulette. I just thought he was going to live for ever, but they took him in the end."

Paying tribute to her son, Mrs Tumilty added: "To me, there's not enough help. He did get some help, but he just wasn't able to stick at it."

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