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Ryan had taken drug, inquest told

Gerry Ryan

Broadcaster Gerry Ryan was under massive personal and financial pressure and had been taking cocaine before he collapsed and died at his home, an inquest has heard.

The "shock jock" was so stressed by difficulties, including at his work with RTE, that he was barely able to sleep in the fortnight before his death, the court was told.

Dublin City Coroner Brian Farrell heard traces of cocaine were found in Ryan's system after his death last April and that the drug was likely to have triggered cardiac arrhythmia, leading to heart failure.

Ryan, a father-of-five, was separated from his wife of 26 years Morah when he died at home in the fashionable Dublin 4 district of Leeson Street Upper, close to bars and restaurants where he was a regular.

At the time he was in a relationship with Melanie Verwoerd, head of Unicef in Ireland. The two women faced each other as details emerged of his lifestyle and the pressure he was under.

Ms Verwoerd revealed her partner had been under an extraordinary amount of stress as he tried to agree a separation with his wife and over his job with RTE, while at the same time he battled huge financial difficulties due to the recession. "This started to take some toll on him physically," Ms Verwoerd said.

She said in the last two weeks of his life he barely slept, waking up with heart palpitations. "He would have to sit up in bed with breathlessness and felt very dizzy," she said.

Ms Verwoerd denied Ryan used cocaine and said he promised at the start of the relationship not to take drugs.

However pathologist Eamon Leen told the packed courtroom that toxicology tests showed traces of cocaine in Ryan's body. "Cocaine consumption has caused a toxic reaction in this gentleman's heart," he said.

Dr Farrell recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.