Drug overdose fears as man (20) is found dead in house
The death of a young man in a possible drugs overdose has left his community stunned and concerned.
The body of Matthew 'Matty' Dougan (20), from Banbridge, was discovered in a house at Leamount Park in the Ballyvally area on Friday evening.
He was found lying beside a 26-year-old friend who was slumped on the floor.
A spokeswoman for the PSNI confirmed that they were investigating a possible drugs link which comes after a series of sudden deaths across the province thought to be related to substance misuse.
She said they were awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination as well as toxicology and other tests – adding that the investigation was at a "very early stage".
The friend of the 20-year-old has not yet been identified but it is understood he is still in hospital where his condition is described as "stable".
The house in the Cline Road area where Matthew's body was found was not his home address and local residents said that the young man had just recently moved in to a flat with his mother a short distance away from his grandmother's house.
UUP councillor Joan Baird said the death had caused great alarm in the area.
"It's very concerning for the people of Banbridge in itself because we are not used to this sort of thing," she said.
"We are a very close-knit family area and certainly we would know a lot of people in our area. It makes me feel very distressed."
She continued: "It is terrible, I am so sorry for all the families concerned and this business of drugs and alcohol in the young people in today's age has got to an awful place.
"Young people should be better prepared to say 'no' to this drug and alcohol situation," she added.
DUP MLA Stephen Moutray said: "Those that peddle drugs within our community are a scourge. I would urge people with any information whatsoever relating to this to pass it on to the police."
Reports of sudden deaths across the country have been on a steady increase over the last couple of months. In August, police were awaiting the results of toxicology results to determine whether drugs was a factor in the deaths of Olivia Reilly (29) and Noel Reilly (36), who were found less than a mile apart from each other in the large town of Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh.
More recently, a lethal cocktail of drugs was blamed for the death of 19-year-old Paula Crothers from Dundonald.
Alex Bunting from drugs group Forum for Action and Substance Abuse said there is no safe level of drug use.
He said: "In response to the drugs that are out there, we can't emphasise enough that there is no safe level of illicit drug use. The chemists that are producing this stuff are not registered and certainly haven't tested their products on humans.
"We would advise all illicit drug-users to beware, because the recent deaths have highlighted an issue which will repeat itself again, because a lot of these people don't have consciences and don't care about dealing death and putting people's lives in dangers."
He added: "All they see is pound signs and profit."