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Family's pain as inquest fails to give closure about brother's final moments

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James with sister Natalie Devlin

James with sister Natalie Devlin

James with sister Natalie Devlin

The family of a young man who died after taking a cocktail of drugs and alcohol have said his inquest has left them deeply frustrated and with many unanswered questions.

James Devlin (35), who lived the last four years of his life in Strabane, died at a house party in Ballybofey, Co Donegal, in May 2018.

An inquest earlier this week heard how his friends had poured ketchup and mayonnaise over him after he slipped into a deep sleep brought on by the drugs, which included a lethal dose of methadone.

While those who carried out the prank weren't aware he was dying at the time, his sister Natalie said she and her siblings are haunted that this is the last image they have of their brother.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Natalie Devlin said: "We as a family have been left deeply traumatised by our brother's final moments, and that his so-called friends filmed this and then posted it on social media has only added to our pain.

"We accept it was the drugs that ultimately killed James but these people degraded him by their actions.

"They laughed while they did this to our brother and filmed it. They also dragged him off the sofa and out the door, leaving him lying on cold concrete while they partied on inside. This was all posted on social media and I still have the video and the pictures which will haunt us as a family forever.

"We accept it was the drugs James took that caused his death but his death could have been more dignified, if he had been left alone on the sofa and not abused in this grotesque way."

Ms Devlin said there was so much more to her brother beyond his addiction and she was saddened the family did not get the opportunity to say this at his inquest. She continued: "We had hoped we would have been able to speak at the inquest and say what he was really like as a person.

"James was a gentleman, a family man with a great love for animals. He had a heart of gold and anyone who knew him knew he would have done anything for anyone.

"He was kind, generous and loving but he suffered from poor mental health and life was always a bit of a struggle for James.

"He was a lost boy who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but he loved us and we loved him.

"For the past four years James was living in sheltered accommodation in Strabane, where he had been getting help with his mental health and addiction issues from the housing support team and his community psychiatric nurse.

"In fact he was getting on so well with his life, James was preparing to move out of the sheltered accommodation and into a house of his own but unfortunately he relapsed and that relapse resulted in his death."

Ms Devlin and her sisters flew from Glasgow to attend the inquest into her brother's death, held earlier this week in Letterkenny, but left with expectations that were not met.

She said: "There were people with James on the night he died that we came to the inquest expecting to hear from, not least (the person) who was the first to pour all the stuff over James and also (a second individual) who dragged James off the sofa and left him lying outside where he died.

"Neither of these two were at the inquest but we didn't even hear their statements.

"Those who were there just walked out of the inquest without even one of them telling us they were sorry for what they did to James or sorry that he had died in such horrible circumstances."

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