RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH (WITHOUT INQUEST)
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Rules 2006
These findings have been partially de-identified in relation to the name of deceased and friends by direction of the Coroner pursuant to S.57(1)(c) of Coroners Act 1995
I, Christopher P Webster, Coroner, have investigated the death of Mr B
I Find :
(a) The identity of the deceased is (Mr. B);
(b) Mr B was born in Hobart, Tasmania in December 1994 and was aged 17 years at the time of his death;
(c) Mr B died in November 2012 at Dodges Ferry;
(d) Mr B never married and his occupation at the date of his death was student;
(e) Mr B died as a result of acute morphine toxicity (overdose);
(f) At the time of Mr B's death he was not being treated by a medical practioner; and
(g) No other person contributed to his death.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death :-
Mr B was a fit healthy 17 year old who had successfully concluded his year 12 studies at Rosny College. His close friend Mr N has indicated that Mr B had previously used cannabis and ecstasy and experimented with other drugs. About 12 months prior, after discussing experimental use, Mr N and Mr B had researched extracting morphine from poppy heads. In November 2012 they went to a Thebaine Crop at Lewisham and removed approximately 5 kilograms of poppy heads.
At 6.30pm on Saturday November 2012 Mr B, Mr N and Ms O went to a disused quarry where they boiled up a number of the poppy heads before all drinking a quantity of the liquid. Mr N and Ms O left around 8.00pm, leaving Mr B as he indicated that he wished to persist with the experience.
Mr B arrived at his home in Dodges Ferry, around 9.15pm. He sent various text messages to Mr N stating how " I am so smashed, can't even focus my eyes, going cross eyed". Mr N recalls that he experienced feeling light headed and heavy in the arms and shoulders.
Mr B's father, saw him when he arrived home and noted how unsteady he appeared. He thought that he may have been drunk or under the influence of marijuana. He also remembers banging coming from his son's bedroom when they went to bed around 11pm.
When Mr B senior left for the afternoon around noon the following day he recalled hearing the sound of his son snoring coming from his bedroom. At 7.35pm Mr B senior rang home and asked his daughter, about his son. As she had not seen him all day she went into his bedroom and found him laying on the bed, fully clothed and unresponsive. He was cold to touch, pale and stiff to move so she contacted Emergency Services. They arrived a short time later and confirmed Mr B was deceased.
A post mortem examination of Mr B in November 2012 determined that the deceased died as a result of acute morphine toxicity, following ingestion of opium extract. A significant contributing factor was aspiration pneumonia.
A thorough investigation was conducted into the circumstances surrounding Mr B's death and it concluded that the death was a result of voluntarily consuming an unknown quantity of opium poppy extraxt, which resulted in an accidental unintentional overdose. The investigation determined that no other person contributed to his death.
Comments & Recommendations :-
I have decided not to hold a public inquest hearing into this death because my investigations have sufficiently disclosed the identity of the deceased, the date, place, cause of death, relevant circumstances concerning how his death occurred and the particulars needed to register his death under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999. I do not consider that the holding of a public inquest hearing would elicit any significant information further to that disclosed by the investigations conducted by me.
I do not consider that lack of signage on the poppy farm which indicated the dangers of consuming poppy extracts contributed to the death of Mr B.
Evidence shows that the deceased was 17 and was not an infrequent user of various types of illicit drugs and had researched the Internet on how to extract opium from poppy heads. He was not naive as to the effects of drugs and likely dangers.
There were signs on the farm fence/s prohibiting trespassing in the poppy field/s which the deceased removed. The signs were located some distance from the public roads. This together with Mr B's previous Internet research indicates a degree of planning by him.
I conclude by expressing my sincere condolences to Mr B's family
DATED: 5 August 2013 at Hobart in the State of Tasmania.
Christopher P Webster