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Partygoer's drugs death accidental

PUBLISHED: 08:26 01 December 2001 | UPDATED: 10:58 03 March 2010

FRIENDS of a partygoer who had taken a cocktail of drugs including LSD tried to talk him out of a "bad trip" and only called an ambulance when he stopped breathing, an inquest has been told.

FRIENDS of a partygoer who had taken a cocktail of drugs including LSD tried to talk him out of a "bad trip" and only called an ambulance when he stopped breathing, an inquest has been told.

Pharmacology graduate Adam Brownlow, 23, from Leeds, died at a party thrown by his friend, judge's daughter Sonya Burke, at her father's country cottage at Dagworth, near Stowmarket, on May 14 last year.

The inquest at Bury St Edmunds yesterday heard that Mr Brownlow had taken cocaine and ecstasy as well as drinking alcohol on the evening of May 13, and had then taken liquid LSD at around 8.30am the following morning.

He then seemed to undergo a "bad trip" in the garden for several hours, becoming aggressive and confused and injuring himself by banging his head on a cement floor. Friends tried to calm him down and reassure him by talking to him, offering him water so he did not dehydrate, and trying to keep him in the shade.

The friends watched Mr Brownlow eventually seem to go to sleep and make snoring noises, only for his body to jerk suddenly and stop breathing soon afterwards. An ambulance was called out at around 6pm but efforts to revive Mr Brownlow were unsuccessful.

His friend Jemima Alexander, also from Leeds, said the partygoers, some of whom had experience of taking drugs, had been concerned at his behaviour, which included banging his head on cement and shouting.

She said: "We were not quite sure what to do. I rang the drugs helpline to see if they could give us any advice but they did not give any indication of what we should do.

"The general feeling was that he would be better with his friends around him rather than waking up in hospital. Three or four times we sat down and discussed what we should do.

"We were not scared of getting into trouble but we were scared of the repercussions for Adam and the possibility of him being sectioned. We were very worried about his mental wellbeing rather than his physical wellbeing."

Miss Alexander said she believed Mr Brownlow had had a fit when she saw his body jerk and she immediately ran inside the cottage to call an ambulance.

Consultant pathologist Dr Wayne Kinsey, who carried out a post-mortem on Mr Brownlow, said that the cause of death was a drugs overdose.

Toxicology tests revealed a potentially fatal concentration of ecstasy in his blood, as well as "breakdown products" which indicated cocaine, cannabis and LSD use and alcohol in his blood and urine.

Dr Kinsey added that Mr Brownlow had also suffered brain injuries consistent with a fall, although this had been a contributory factor rather than a cause of his death as the bruising he suffered would not normally prove to be fatal.

The inquest also heard from forensic scientist Mark Tyler, who carried out the toxicology tests, that LSD can be more difficult to trace than other drugs in such tests because the doses in which it is taken are usually smaller. Mr Tyler said that LSD taken alone was unlikely to be fatal.

Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said: "We get a sense of a very popular, genuinely bright young man who clearly had a lot to live for. What we have heard emphasises the extreme hazards of drug abuse and experimentation."

He added that Mr Brownlow's friends had acted in what they believed to be his best interests. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

In June this year Sonya Burke, 24, was jailed for four months for allowing premises to be used for the supplying of cocaine and cannabis and Damien Abass, 27, a friend of Burke's, was jailed for 14 months for supplying LSD to Mr Brownlow.


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