Tablets OAP was on did not mix well with alcohol

By Louise Roseingrave

AN OLD age pensioner died of a lethal combination of drugs and alcohol after attending a senior citizens Christmas party. Marcella O’Reilly (74) went with friends to the Christmas party and was ‘laughing and in great form’ on her return home.

The woman, who lived alone at Decies Road in Ballyfermot, Dublin 10 was taking multiple prescribed drugs as part of her everyday medication.

dublin coroners court

Coroner's Court returned a verdict of misadventure

The woman’s neighbour told an inquest into her death that she saw Ms O’Reilly returning home around 4.30pm on December 8 2016.

Roisin Furlong, who lives next door, said she saw Ms O’Reilly and another lady trying to enter the house.

“They had the wrong key in the door,” she said.

“We put her into bed and she was laughing and joking about having had a few drinks. She thanked us for looking after her so well,” Ms Furlong told Dublin Coroner’s Court.

“I advised her to lie on her side just to be cautious. I turned on the bathroom light for her,” she said.

Home help Carmel Maher called to Ms O’Reilly at 7pm and found her sleeping.

“She was asleep in bed and I didn’t want to wake her as she had a few drinks at a Christmas party earlier that day,” Ms Maher said.

Later she found the elderly woman unresponsive in her bedroom and ran for help.

Paramedic Declan Duffy said he arrived at the house at 10.16pm. He said the woman was in a collapsed state with no heart rate and was not breathing. She was pronounced dead at 12.03am.

A post-mortem found the woman had a lethal combination of five prescribed drugs in her system along with a blood alcohol level of 180 milligrams per cent.

The drugs included the anti-anxiety drug xanax, the muscle relaxant benzodiazepine, the painkiller lyrica, the anti-depressant mirtazepine and a drug used for mood conditions called quetiapine.

All medications were present at therapeutic levels. The cause of death was a toxic combination of drugs and alcohol.

“It’s not that you take too much of anything, it’s just that the type of tablets she was on, they don’t mix well with alcohol,” Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said.

Returning a verdict of misadventure, the coroner said the woman fell into a deep sleep.

“It’s poignant because she was in such good form before she went to sleep,” the coroner said.

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