Belfast Telegraph

Man jailed for drug offences linked to the death of a woman in Belfast

By Ashleigh McDonald

The dangers associated with heroin use were highlighted in court yesterday as a 36-year-old man was jailed for offences linked to the death of woman at a house in Belfast.

Mark McCrudden was handed an 18-month sentence for both possessing the Class A drug, and being concerned in its supply in March 2015. He will spend half the sentence in prison, with the remainder on licence.

The charges arose following the death of a 30-year-old woman, who died after taking heroin with McCrudden and another young woman in a house in the Ballysillan area of the city. Richard McConkey, the barrister representing McCrudden, said: "This tragic death hammered home to him and other people in their circle that when engaging and taking drugs of his nature, they are really playing Russian Roulette."

A prosecutor told Belfast Crown Court that just after 10.30am on March 25, 2015, the ambulance service received a call reporting the death of a woman.

A post mortem revealed there was a combination of heroin, cocaine and diazepam in her system.

The court heard that McCrudden, from Victoria Street in Belfast, the deceased and a 22-year-old had all been in the home of another man, who didn't take heroin. McCrudden and the 22-year old woman went to Newtownabbey in a taxi to buy the drug.

The taxi driver later told police they both went into the house.

Telling the court that it was not possible to ascertain exactly what happened when McCrudden and the woman returned with the heroin, what is clear is that it was split and used, which led to the 30-year old woman's death.

Her body was discovered the next morning by a male occupant, who did not use heroin and who was in bed when the trio were taking the drug.

That morning, Mr Crudden tidied up the house and disposed of needles. He later told police this was not his way of hiding evidence as he was not aware the woman was dead, but the man whose home they were in didn't like the idea of that particular drug being taken in his home.

When he and the 22-year old woman were arrested, McCrudden admitted being in possession of heroin for personal use. He also told police he had "put £50 in the pot" to pay for his share.

Defence barrister Richard McConkey revealed that in the aftermath of the death McCrudden went to England to get off heroin, adding: "He has told probation he has been off heroin for some time." He also pointed out there was "no evidence" to suggest his client was directly involved in administering drugs to the woman.

Mr McConkey told the court that McCrudden was not a drug dealer, but it was rather "a case of a group of heroin addicts clubbing together to get heroin".

Earlier this year, Judge David McFarland sentenced the 22-year old woman who went in the taxi with McCrudden to buy the drugs, and made her the subject of a probation order due to her younger age, lack of criminal record and "a very positive engagement with an existing probation order."

Judge McFarand also said the heroin in question was a "bad dose", telling McCrudden: "Any one of you could have died as a result of taking it."

Belfast Telegraph

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