First known death in NI from new narcotic

Image taken from a US government DEA website of U-47700
Image taken from a US government DEA website of U-47700

A young man from a Co Antrim village has been revealed to be the first – and so far only – person in Northern Ireland whose death has been linked to a new drug.

An inquest into the death of William Andrew Craig, a 27-year-old from the village of Connor just to the south of Ballymena, recorded that post-mortem had uncovered that a substance called U-47700 played a role in the fatality.

The death was a double tragedy for the Craig family – in 2009, the deceased’s father Billy had died after coming off his motorcycle near Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

The inquest into his son, who was from Rossburn Manor in Connor, took place in Ballymena Courthouse yesterday.

It found that on Saturday December 10, 2016, he had gone to watch a local football match, then afterwards went to the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes club.

Then, during early evening, he arrived at thehome of Jason Smyth.

The findings state: “The deceased and the others present consumed alcohol. During the course of the evening the deceased produced a small plastic bag from his pocket and offered some of its contents to the house owner.

“This was refused and the deceased was informed that he could not consume the contents within the property.

“The deceased agreed and replaced the bag and its contents in his pocket. The deceased continued drinking alcohol.

“At some stage during the evening the deceased slipped off the stool he was sitting on in the kitchen on to the floor.”

He was helped to the living room where he fell asleep on a rug, snoring. The other people there also went to sleep.

Then at about 7am the next day, when someone went to fetch a glass of water, they noticed Mr Craig was unresponsive. Emergency CPR was unsuccessful.

He is listed as being pronounced dead at 8.45am at an address in Maybin Park, in the neighbouring village of Kells.

The post-mortem results found death was due to “U-47700 and cocaine toxicity combined with alcohol”.

The findings say that the blood analysis revealed the presence of U-47700 – a “synthetic opioid painkiller”.

The post-mortem results found death was due to “U-47700 and cocaine toxicity combined with alcohol”.

The Coroners Service have advised this is the only known death linked to the drug U-47700 in the Province.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency said that the drug (which is sometimes written as U-47,700) goes by the street names U4, pink, or pinky.

It can be a white or light pink powder, or can be pressed into pills. It likens it to heroin.

In the UK, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has said it is “reportedly 7.5 times more potent than morphine”.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said it was first detected in Europe in October 2014.

DUP councillor William McCaughey, who comes from the same area, said: “It’s a very difficult time for the Craig family – for not only had the family lost a father and husband a number of years earlier in a motorcycle accident, but also suffered the added loss of a brother and son.

“This inquest will undoubltedly resurrect many memories for the family once again. And it’s sometimes difficult to understand why some families suffer so much loss and pain.

“But my prayers and thoughts, and the rest of the villages of Kells and Connor’s thoughts – who held the Craig family in such high regard – will be with them at this very difficult time.”

Several months after William Andrew Craig died, the government made U-47700 a Class A drug, meaning supply is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison. It said the substance has “no legitimate use”.