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Wicklow man died after taking headshop drug known as 'gravel' and 'bubble'

An inquest heard cause of death was Alpha PVP toxicity with restraint as a contributory factor.

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A MAN IN his 30s died after taking a head shop drug that can cause heightened aggression and paranoia, an inquest heard today.

Damien Taylor had taken Alpha PVP, known as ‘bubble’ or ‘gravel’ which is a type of head shop drug related to bath salts when gardaí were called to his home three years ago, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

The 34-year-old was high on the substance when he caused a disturbance that prompted a relative, on calling emergency services, to describe him as “possessed”.

Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said the drug is causing concern among medics due to its growing prevalence and its disturbing effects on behaviour.

The drug can cause increased aggression and paranoia and can be fatal – particularly when a user is restrained, Dr Curtis said.

He said a toxicology report at autopsy revealed ‘significant levels of Alpha PVP’ which caused the man’s heart to stop beating.

Gardaí arrived at Kindlestown Park, Greystones, Co Wicklow of as the 34-year-old was being talked to and restrained by a relative at about 10.50pm on 22 March 2015.

The court heard that he was trying to take his own life and went limp and became unresponsive as the relative tried to stop him from doing so.

Family members said they had never seen Mr Taylor behave this way. He went limp as gardaí arrived, leading them to believe he was ‘playing dead’.

He was arrested under the Mental Health Act, handcuffed and placed in garda custody.

He was carried to the garda van but gardaí sought medical assistance when the man remained limp. Mr Taylor was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead on 23 March.

Dr Curtis said if an Alpha PVP user is restrained, it can cause anxiety, stress and the release of adrenalin, which makes a cardiac arrest more likely.

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“It’s a synthetic drug, known in some parts of the world as gravel. It’s a head shop drug, marketed as bath salts or plant food and people take it for its psychoactive effect,” Dr Curtis said.

The cause of death was Alpha PVP toxicity with restraint as a contributory factor.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure and recommended that basic first aid training be mandatory for all gardaí, not just recruits who have entered the force since 2014.

The jury recommended that all garda vehicles should be suitably equipped to deal with medical emergencies.

More: The re-opening of Stepaside Garda Station has been thrown into serious doubt 

Earlier: Gardaí seek help tracing Sligo man missing since 29 December

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Louise Roseingrave

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