Friends unknowingly covered dying man’s face in food at house party, inquest hears

February 12, 2020

Friends of a young man who was dying from a drug overdose at a house party in Co Donegal unknowingly covered his face in red sauce, vinegar and pizza and filmed it as a practical joke, an inquest has heard.

James Devlin was found dead by pals outside a house in Ballybofey on May 26th, 2018.

The 35-year-old had been socialising all evening with some pals and had taken alcohol but had also consumed tablets and methadone.

A statement on behalf of the dead man’s friend, Laura Sheehan, was read out at the inquest before coroner Dr Denis McCauley at Letterkenny Courthouse.

Ms Sheehan told how James and some other friends had met in McGuigan’s Bar in Ballybofey and had consumed lots of alcohol before returning to her apartment at Finn Farm.

More alcohol was consumed and the friends had also ordered a takeaway.

James fell asleep and began to snore loudly.

Another pal, Samantha Malley, who described James as “like a brother”, said she put some sauce on his face as a joke.

However, Ms Sheehan’s statement revealed how this escalated at that others at the party put all sorts of other stuff on James’ face and in his mouth including vinegar, mayo, sauce and pizza.

She revealed that it got so bad that you couldn’t see his face at all because it was covered in food.

Ms Sheehan’s report said how she wanted to clean up the mess which had been caused in the house after food had been poured over James.

He was taken outside and was unconscious.

He was left there but after a while, one of the men at the party shouted “He’s dead, he’s dead.”

Ms Sheehan said James, with an address at Dillon Court, Strabane, Co Tyrone, had stopped snoring and that his lips were blue.

An ambulance was called and a number of people tried to carry out CPR on him and resuscitate him.

Paramedics arrived and they worked on Mr Devlin for almost half an hour but he had passed.

Garda Michael Kilcoyne said he received a call about the incident and the scene was cordoned off and a full investigation int the incident was launched.

A post mortem on the remains of Mr Devlin was carried out by the State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan.

It showed that the deceased had broken ribs which were consistent with someone carrying out CPR as well as a number of abrasions.

However, the most telling feature was the presence of a number of substances including methadone in Mr Devlin’s body.

Earlier in the evidence, a Damien Murphy, who lived in another apartment at Finn Farm, said he had given Mr Devlin some of his methadone but estimated it was only up to 15 millilitres.

Coroner Dr McCauley said he was satisfied that the cause of death was multiple drug toxicity and that Mr Devlin died as a result of cerebral depression.

He added that the foodstuffs placed in James’ face had not caused his death as there was no sign of asphyxiation

He added “James went asleep and went unconscious and his brain turned off which meant his heart and lungs turned off then.”

He recorded a verdict of misadventure.

He expressed his sympathy with Mr Devlin’s five sisters who had traveled from Glasgow in Scotland for the inquest.