A CORONER has warned people are “signing their own death warrants” after a dad-of-two died from taking a powerful drug known as PMA.
Daniel Stewart McGregor died after a two-day battle for survival at South Tyneside District Hospital.
The 40-year-old had been admitted to the accident and emergency department after taking paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA) and suffering seizures.
At his inquest, South Tyneside coroner Terence Carney warned people about the dangers of the “lethal drug”.
Mr McGregor, who lived in Glasgow Road, Jarrow, left his house on the morning of May 26, telling his fiancée Lisa Faragher that he was going to a friend’s house.
The inquest heard that at some point he had taken this drug. He was later admitted to A&E after suffering from seizures and a drop in consciousness.
Dr Gemma Kemp, a specialist registrar in forensic pathology at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, carried out the post mortem examination.
She told the hearing that doctors had originally thought that Mr McGregor had taken ecstasy.
Shortly after his arrival at hospital, he was admitted to the intensive care unit.
Dr Kemp said that Mr McGregor was bleeding profusely and that all his organs began to fail.
She said: “Once someone starts down that path of multi-organ failure, it’s very difficult to bring them back and despite the best efforts of the doctors to keep him alive, he was just too ill.”
Dr Kemp also said that hospital staff did not know which drug Mr McGregor had taken and that even if they had, there is no antidote for PMA.
The inquest also heard that the drug is so rare that there is only one laboratory in the country that can identify it.
Dr Kemp said that a “high” amount of PMA was found in his blood and that it was “enough to be fatal”.
There was some alcohol in his system and some other drugs, including paracetamol and tramadol, but they were at a low level and did not contribute to his death.
She said the drug caused his body temperature to rise, his heart rate to increase, his blood pressure to drop and his organs to fail.
She gave his cause of death as multi-organ failure due to the toxicity of PMA.
Mr Carney said: “He has taken this drug and I’m not suggesting in any way that he did it to try and cause himself harm, but it has had this catastrophic effect on him. It is because of this rare and very dangerous drug that he has died.”
Two people were arrested following Mr McGregor’s death and others also visited police voluntarily, but no further action was taken against any of them.
Det Con Paul Challoner, of the major crime team in South Tyneside, said: “There was insufficient evidence to prove that Daniel was sold drugs by any person and although we know Daniel has at some point been given the drug, there is no evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service to bring further action against anyone.
“As an investigator it’s frustrating, but we’ve explored every angle of this case and unfortunately the evidence isn’t there.”
Mr Carney added: “Unless and until someone comes along and says ‘I did it’ or unless someone is brave enough to point the finger, the chances of being able to successfully prosecute someone are nil.”
He added: “Anyone taking this drug is signing their own death warrant. The death of this young man that we’ve had described to us is a horrific death and one that took 48 hours.
“I think the point to be made is that there’s nothing that can be done to reverse the effects of this drug.
“As the doctor has told us, if he had taken heroin he could have been given an antidote, but in this instance there is nothing – this drug is a killer.
“I hope people don’t think of this as the new drug on the block and decide to try it for themselves.
“Some people have given Daniel this drug and they know that it has caused his death and they are responsible for it.
“It is a lethal concoction and anyone offered it should say no.”
n Finding: Misadventure