Pal issues drug warning after best friend’s life was cut short following night of taking party drug MDMA

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The best friend of a young man with a promising Army career ahead of him has put out a warning to others to steer clear of recreational drugs after his pal perished after taking MDMA.

Giving evidence at the inquest into Richard Steven’s death today, Colm McCarthy, 22, said he has warned others about the dangers of the popular party drug. He revealed that while some friends have listened, others continue to dice with death.

Richard and Colm had taken MDMA, better known as ecstasy, on the evening of December 10 after returning home from a night out.

They had tried the drug once previously and on that night took a crystal form of the illegal substance and stayed up until 7am the following morning - on that day Colm said he felt awful, although 21 year old Richard, of Alexandra Road, Kings Langley, seemed unaffected.

Colm told Herts Coroner Edward Thomas: “My stomach felt like it was churning - it is the worst pain I have had in my stomach. I also felt quite drunk, I couldn’t keep my balance and I kept falling asleep.”

He said he felt better when he woke up on the morning of December 12, but on that day Richard - who was due to join the Army as a combat medical technician in January - became seriously ill.

He suffered a fit in the morning and was rushed to Watford General Hospital by ambulance where he suffered another seizure and was later pronounced dead.

Pathologist Dr Rowena Smith, who carried out a post mortem examination, told the hearing that Richard’s brain had swelled and was pushing on his skull.

“MDMA stops your body from eliminating water, so you’re retaining water and it is going into the cells where it shouldn’t be and that can cause brain swelling,” she said.

Blood tests when Richard was admitted to hospital showed that toxic levels of MDMA were still in his system - even days after taking the drug.

Mr Thomas recorded the cause of death as an overdoes of MDMA and gave a verdict of misadventure.

He said: “Anybody who takes anything like this risks dreadful side effects and possible death.

“The coroners service over the years has seen many, many families in the position that your family is in. What families want and what the authorities want is to try and make sure that as few families as possible experience the pain that you are suffering. To make sure that people are aware that not only do they place their own life at risk but they provide a devastation for their families that will never go away.”

He also urged Colm to continuing spreading his anti-drug message. “You lost a good friend and it is important that nobody else loses a good friend like you have,” said Mr Thomas.

Speaking after the inquest at Hatfield Colm said: “You just don’t know what your are taking and it’s not worth the risk.”