Belfast Telegraph

I don't believe my son took second overdose after he was sent home from hospital, Stephen Healy's mum tells inquest

Bernadette Healy
Bernadette Healy
Bernadette Healy with members of her family arriving at court for the inquest
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The parents of a Londonderry man who died with a 'lethal level' of codeine in his system do not believe he took a second overdose two days after he was discharged from hospital, an inquest had heard.

Coroner Paddy McGurgan, sitting in Londonderry Court yesterday, was told Stephen Healy (36) of Magowan Park was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital on February 23, 2018 after admitting he took "160 codeine tablets".

Mr Healy, who was discharged on February 24, was found dead in his bed at home by his father, Seamus on February 25.

The court heard Stephen had gone to Altnagelvin Hospital on February 23 to visit his terminally ill grandmother to whom he was "extremely close".

However, he left in a distressed state after he got into an altercation with his uncles, telling his father he was going to "kill himself".

Seamus Healy said he thought this was an "idle threat" but when his son phoned him a number of times to say he has taken 30, then 50 and then 160 codeine tablets, he contacted Bernadette Healy and asked her to check on their son.

Ms Healy, along with her daughter Ciara, found Stephen at home around 9.30pm on February 23 with a number of empty packets of codeine tablets, and called an ambulance.

After being assessed and spoken to by the mental health team at Altnagelvin, Stephen, a former soldier in the Irish Army, was discharged from the hospital's A&E Department on February 24.

Mr Healy was found dead in his bed by his father on February 25. A post-mortem carried out showed Mr Healy died from a lethal dose of codeine.

Mr Healy's parents, told the court they do not believe their son took a second overdose after he was discharged from hospital and wondered if it was possible their son died from the effects of the overdose he took on February 23.

Mrs Healy said she "was 100% sure Stephen didn't take a second overdose" and that when he was being discharged from hospital he told her he "regretted what had happened", apologised to her, his father, his uncles and the medical staff and that on the way home he told her "he was looking forward to spending time with his sister and the family".

The court heard tests carried out on Mr Healy's blood after he passed away showed he had four milligrammes of codeine - anything between 1.4 and 5.6 milligrammes is considered a lethal dose.

The inquest also heard that there were unabsorbed tablets in Mr Healy's stomach at the time of his death.

A toxicology expert explained to the court that while it was not possible to say when Mr Healy took the codeine, it was "normally absorbed by the body a couple of hours after ingestion" and that the level in Mr Healy's blood would have been higher if he had not died.

Pathologist, Dr Christopher Johnston said in his view it was "unlikely" Mr Healy had taken the 160 tablets he said he had on February 23 as he would have been "taken straight to intensive care" and not "sitting up talking".

Dr Johnston said it was unlikely Mr Healy would have survived February 23 only to die from the effects of taking the tablets two days later and that in his view Mr Healy took additional codeine after he was discharged from hospital.

A police constable told the court he attended Mr Healy's home on the day he was found dead and that he found medication in a drawer beside Mr Healy's bed in boxes and in blister packs, but no empty blister packs.

Asked by Bernadette Healy if he thought it "looked like Stephen took a second overdose", the officer said "no, there were no obvious signs to me that led me to believe a second overdose had been taken".

The inquest into Mr Healy's death continues today.

Belfast Telegraph

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