Belfast Telegraph

I hope young people read Ryan Crawford's story and see just how deadly drugs can be, say grieving Ballymena parents

Inquest finds accidental overdose claimed the life of 'troubled' teen

By Chris McCullough

The father of a Ballymena teenager who lost his life to an overdose says he hopes other young people learn how dangerous taking drugs can be.

During an inquest into the death of Ryan Crawford at the end of August last year, the court found he died as a result of an accidental drug overdose.

Ryan was only 19 and was described as a "troubled young man" who suffered from "mental health issues, together with alcohol and drugs abuse".

He was found dead in a flat at Colonsay Park in the Ballykeel area of the town on August 31, 2015, where he was staying with a friend after visiting his girlfriend.

Ryan's father David Crawford and his mother Joanne Murphy were present in the Coroner's Court for the hearing into their son's death.

Both parents said being in court was a sad day and that they hoped other young people would take note and desist from using drugs.

Doctors had prescribed Ryan a number of drugs to help him with his anxiety and to aid sleep.

He was also attending Holywell Hospital in Antrim on a voluntary basis to help with his mental health issues.

Mr Crawford said he last saw his son at around 11pm on August 30, 2015, when Ryan left home to go to girlfriend Tracie Bell's house.

As it turned out, Ryan later left her place and arrived at another dwelling nearby where friend Liz Rainey lived with her son Cameron.

Cameron let Ryan in, as his mother was in bed.

Ryan later joined Liz in the bed and fell asleep beside her.

Ms Rainey was present in court and told Coroner Patrick McGurgan that it was a "normal occurrence that Ryan slept in her house". When she woke up the next morning she noticed Ryan was snoring heavily. She tried to wake him up but couldn't.

She went downstairs to make some coffee and returned to the bed and fell asleep. When she awoke later, at around 1pm, she noted Ryan was not breathing and called an ambulance.

Police confirmed that when they arrived on the scene they found no signs of an assault. They also found a small number of tablets on the cabinet beside the bed.

Mr Crawford told the court that since splitting up with his wife he was the legal guardian of Ryan. He said: "Ryan had mental problems and was on benefits. He was a bit reckless and was single-minded.

"He never meant anyone any harm. Those who liked him, liked him, and those who didn't, didn't. Ryan was not a drug addict or an alcoholic, he never had the money to be either of those. He had his own flat, but never liked to stay there alone.

"The last time I saw him before he died I thought he looked pale and tired. He looked like he needed a good meal, a bath and a sleep." Ryan's father stated that at no point that night did his son mention anything about taking his own life.

It later emerged in court that Ryan had tried to take his own life at an earlier date, but "couldn't go through with it".

It was also noted in the court that Ryan had been arrested by the police around 46 hours prior to his death for a number of alleged offences.

Mr Crawford added: "I hope that other young people read Ryan's story and I hope it educates them on the danger of drugs and how they can kill people."

Speaking via video-link, assistant State Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram confirmed the death was caused by aspiration pneumonia.

He said a number of prescription drugs were found in Ryan's system, as well as some others including a legal high called Miaow Miaow.

A small amount of alcohol was also found, together with traces of cannabis.

Coroner McGurgan said: "It is my finding that 19-year-old Ryan lost his life due to a combination of drugs.

"I hope the public reads about this and understands that drugs can kill.

"I am content that Ryan did not intend to take his own life and this was an accidental overdose."

Speaking outside court, Ryan's mother Joanne said: "It is indeed a sad day. But at least now we know what happened.

"I hope all young people pay attention to what drugs can do to people."

Belfast Telegraph


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