Belfast Telegraph

'Speckled cherry' killer drug: Police to re-examine teenage girl's death after alleged dealer is named in inquest

By Adrian Rutherford

Police are to re-examine the death of a teenage girl after receiving new details about the dealer who allegedly supplied the drug that killed her.

Stacey Nugent died after taking a lethal pill, linked to the deaths of at least 20 other young people across Northern Ireland.

The 19-year-old shopworker passed away in hospital after being found lifeless in the bedroom of her Portadown home last June.

She had taken an unregulated stimulant drug known as "speckled cherries".

During an inquest yesterday, the name of the person alleged to have supplied the pill which killed Stacey was provided by a witness.

Danielle Donaldson said she had been told this person was the source of the drug.

However, although police searched a number of homes at the time, this individual's home was not one of them.

Senior coroner John Leckey instructed a PSNI officer present in court to take a statement from Ms Donaldson after the hearing.

Mr Leckey said that, at the very least, police should put the allegations to the individual.

Stacey died at Craigavon Area Hospital on June 18 last year.

She worked at Asda in Portadown and was doing a weekly college course in social care. At the time she was living with her father, James John Nugent, at Hartfield Avenue in the town.

Mr Nugent told the inquest how he had gone to Spain for a break, leaving Stacey at home.

Stacey was, he added, her usual self in the weeks before she died and was "always laughing and happy". He said he was aware his daughter drank socially but did not know she had been experimenting with drugs.

He described getting a phone call in Spain telling him that Stacey had died.

After returning home the following day, Mr Nugent recalled finding bottles of alcohol strewn around his home.

He said it was "completely out of character" for Stacey.

Two witnesses, Rebecca Tweedy and Ms Donaldson, were among a group of people with Stacey on the day she died.

The group went to a quarry where they drank, sunbathed and swam in a nearby pool.

Later, after police had moved them on, some went back to Stacey's home. Ms Tweedy recalled that, once home, she noticed a change in her friend's behaviour.

"Stacey was talking but she made no sense," she told the inquest.

She was "beginning to burn up" and was making sudden movements. Her eyes were rolling to the back of her head, Ms Tweedy said.

Ms Donaldson, who was also at the quarry, said she noticed "straight away" that Stacey appeared to be on drugs.

Later she recalled taking a phone call from a friend who told her that Stacey was "freaking out".

Ms Donaldson rushed to the scene, where she found her in a lifeless state.

"Stacey was lying on the floor, face down into a pillow," she said.

She recalled how her hair was damp, her lips were purple and her pupils were enlarged.

An ambulance was called and Ms Donaldson started first aid. Stacey was taken to Craigavon hospital where she was pronounced dead. Ms Donaldson said it was her belief Stacey was already dead when she arrived at the house.

Asked if she knew where the drugs Stacey took had come from, she said she understood a female individual had obtained them.

The individual, who was not at the inquest but was named during the evidence, had allegedly received them from a male dealer, who was also named.

A detective constable confirmed that the home of the female had been searched at the time, but nothing relevant was found.

Asked about the alleged dealer, the officer said "that particular name" had not featured during their inquiries.

The inquest heard that the drug is marketed on the basis that it is ecstasy. However, because the effects of speckled cherries take longer to kick in, users often do not think they are working and take another, leading to overdoses.


Speckled cherries, scientifically known as 4,4-Dimethylaminorex, are an unregulated stimulant drug linked to the deaths of more than 20 people across the province. Among its potential effects are agitation, increased body temperature, convulsions and organ failure. It has been likened to a serial killer on the loose.

Belfast Telegraph

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