Belfast Telegraph

Troubled mum died from drug 200 times strength of morphine

Overdose: Righnach Gribben
Overdose: Righnach Gribben
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

A young Co Tyrone mother-of-two died after taking a cocktail of drugs, one of which is 200 times more potent than morphine, an inquest has heard.

Righnach Gribben (20) from Coalisland died of poisoning by fentanyl, pregabalin, diazepam and amitriptyline on February 3, 2018.

Former State Pathologist Professor Jack Crane described fentanyl as 200 times stronger than morphine.

Ms Gribben, who had been diagnosed with "emotional unstable personality disorder", took the lethal cocktail because she was struggling to cope with her life but not intending to end it, the Coroner's Court heard.

Dr Crane said Ms Gribben had ingested a fentanyl patch, which he found at the back of her throat.

Properly used, the patch should be worn on the skin to allow for slow release of the drug.

He said the amount found in Ms Gribben's system was enough to be fatal in someone who was not used to it, but it was also combined with non-lethal doses of the other three drugs.

Coroner Patrick McGurgan said Ms Gribben was "yet another young person whose life has been taken needlessly by drugs".

He said he wanted to warn young people about the dangers of taking drugs that haven't been prescribed and wanted to "highlight the problem Northern Ireland is facing with drugs".

He added: "Fentanyl is an increasing problem in Northern Ireland and it may be a shock to some people the way she ingested it - she tried to eat it. This is a depressing story, all too depressing for me as coroner.

"I don't think young people are getting the message that drugs kill but I am exceptionally concerned about the number of drug-related deaths I am seeing."

He said that while he didn't know the answer, perhaps "there needs to be an overarching look at whether we are dispensing too much medication", but recognised it was possible to get medicines from the internet.

The court heard that Ms Gribben had found out two weeks before her death that her second child was going to be placed for adoption.

Her first child had already been adopted, which her mother Joanne Gribben said was a "trigger" for her daughter's low mood.

Mrs Gribben said her daughter had mental health problems from the age of 12 and had a history of self-harm.

However, she felt if she had been allowed to keep her children her life might have turned out differently.

Mrs Gribben said her daughter had previously collected her prescriptions for her without any difficulties.

But when she failed to bring this prescription to her, Mrs Gribben became concerned and went to her daughter's house, where she found her lying in the living room floor and realised immediately that she was dead.

A police constable told the inquest in Omagh that he was called to Ms Gribben's house after her family had reported finding her body.

The officer said when he arrived at the house "every window was wide open, none of the lights were working and there was significant damage to all internal walls".

There was also a significant amount of faeces and urine on the floors.

Ms Gribben's neighbour Berni Kelly told the court she "constantly rang the police" about Ms Gribben's behaviour in the house, which would continue until around "four or five in the morning".

Dr Matt Armstrong, a consultant psychiatrist who treated Ms Gribben, said that, along with the self-harm, his patient would have used the hammer to beat holes in the walls of her home as a coping mechanism for the way she was feeling.

He said that while there were a lot of services offered to Ms Gribben - she had been offered a total of 70 appointments to a variety of these - most she didn't attend at all and others she didn't attend regularly.

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