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Tragic mum Olivia Reilly (29) 'poisoned' after taking what she believed were ecstasy tablets


Young mum Olivia Reilly died in 2013

Young mum Olivia Reilly died in 2013

Young mum Olivia Reilly died in 2013

A young mother who died suddenly took a deadly illicit substance she mistakenly believed was ecstasy, a coroner has found.

Olivia Reilly (29) was found dead at a house in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, on August 4, 2013.

She had a son who was aged nine at the time.

Her death, which was initially reported as unexplained, was linked in a police investigation at the time to a second fatality discovered within 24 hours in the same area.

The body of Noel Reilly (36), who was not related to Ms Reilly, was discovered at a property within a mile of where the young mother was found dead.

At an inquest at Craigavon Courthouse yesterday, Ms Reilly's loved ones - including her parents - were emotional as Coroner Suzanne Anderson ruled that Ms Reilly had died from poisoning from para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA).

Dubbed 'Dr Death', the drug is an amphetamine sold in tablet form, and is similar to MDMA - the active component of ecstasy.

However, PMA is more poisonous and can kill at lower doses, but is often mis-sold as ecstasy by drug dealers.

It has been linked to a spate of deaths in the UK in recent years, including seven young people in Scotland in July 2013 - a month before Ms Reilly's death.

The inquest was told that the evening before Ms Reilly passed away, the care worker had been out drinking with friends in two local bars.

The following day, Ms Reilly arrived around midday at a property in Trasna Way, Lisnaskea, to rejoin her friends Maeve Sheridan and Kevin McElroy, who was the tenant of the property.

The three were accompanied by another man, who left before Ms Reilly passed away, the coroner was told.

The inquest heard Ms Sheridan - who died suddenly in 2015, the inquest was informed - revealed in a statement that the group had been enjoying drinking when Ms Reilly sent a text in an attempt to obtain ecstasy.

According to Ms Sheridan, a man later arrived with a "plastic see-through bag of tablets" which it is thought Ms Reilly paid £40 for.

Ms Reilly proceeded to take a number of tablets, believed to have been six in staggered doses, the inquest was told, and a while later, began "having a fit".

Ms Reilly, however, recovered from this initial episode, but was later struck by a second attack.

According to Ms Sheridan's statement, Ms Reilly then "suddenly stopped shaking" and Mr McElroy contacted emergency services, which were notified close to 7pm.

The inquest heard how a 999 call handler explained over the phone to Mr McElroy how to carry out CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on Ms Reilly.

A paramedic, who attended the scene, told the inquest that on arrival Ms Reilly had "no pulse and was not breathing".

Ms Reilly was formally pronounced dead around 10.45pm.

A post-mortem report compiled by Professor Jack Crane, the state pathologist for Northern Ireland, concluded that Ms Reilly had died from the effects of PMA, which included accelerated heart rhythm and high blood pressure.

The drug is also known to cause extremely high temperatures and convulsions.

Ms Reilly's father, Kevin Reilly, told the inquest that he last spoke to his daughter the evening before she died.

"She was completely normal," he said, stressing that he was "never aware of any drugs".

"It was a complete shock," added Mr Reilly.

Ms Reilly had been previously described as a caring person who loved working with the elderly.

At her funeral over five years ago, mourners heard that Ms Reilly would be remembered for her "beautiful smile" and had been "adored" by her elderly care patients.

Giving her ruling, the coroner said PMA had been "devastating" in the case of Ms Reilly, whose death had been a "terrible shock" to her family.

Offering her deepest sympathies to Ms Reilly's parents, Ms Anderson said what had happened should serve as a warning to others.

"This highlights the very grave danger of taking illicit drugs," she said. "There is no way of knowing what is in them or what effect they will have."

Belfast Telegraph