A PREGNANT mother of two and her unborn baby died after she used cocaine cut with the heart drug lignocaine.
Lisa Hart (32) and her unborn son, Elton Hart, were pronounced dead at 3am on March 16 last year at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, three hours after the pregnant mother collapsed at home. An inquest into the death of the mother and baby at Dublin City Coroner’s Court yesterday heard Ms Hart’s partner, Elton Moran, brought cocaine home from the pub on the evening of March 15.
The couple’s two children, Taylor (9) and Charlie (1), were asleep in bed at the family’s home on Banratty Road, Coolock, Dublin 5. Mr Moran, who raised the alarm after Ms Hart collapsed in their bedroom, claimed in his evidence that he couldn’t remember Lisa, who was 32 weeks’ pregnant at the time of her death, taking cocaine.
When members of Dublin Fire Brigade arrived at the flat Mr Moran, who was intoxicated due to drug use, said his partner was pregnant and had taken cocaine. There were no signs of circulation or respiration, members of the emergency services told the inquest. Dublin City Coroner Brian Farrell told members of Ms Hart’s family, who attended yesterday’s hearing, that she died from cocaine and lignocaine toxicity. Her unborn baby subsequently died in the womb as a result of Lisa’s death, a post mortem by deputy state pathologist Michael Curtis found.
A toxicology screening as part of a post mortem by Dr Curtis found cocaine in Ms Hart’s blood, as well as toxic level of lignocaine, a heart drug with which street cocaine is frequently “cut” that can intensify the effects of cocaine on the heart. The coroner said the combination of cocaine and lignocaine was “very dangerous”. “It’s an issue we have been concerned about in Dublin for some time . . . We are having inquests regularly where cocaine is the cause of death cut with lignocaine. “We have been in touch with the gardai about it. We have very grave concerns about it.”
Cocaine deaths are not dose-related and can occur at any level, the inquest heard. Mr Moran said in his evidence that when Lisa was getting ready for bed, she asked him to put their daughter Taylor in the top bunk. Lisa then started pointing at the wardrobe and saying there was someone in the press, Mr Moran said. “Taylor started roaring down ‘There is no one there’ . . . Lisa was gone mad and shouting,” he added. “Then I realised Lisa had a hold of Taylor’s hair and I was trying to stop her . . . Lisa was roaring ‘Get it out, get it out’, and Taylor was shouting ‘Ma, you’re going to kill the baby’,” said Mr Moran. He added that Lisa was trying to harm the baby and he was trying to stop her. Ms Hart suffered a fit and Mr Moran threw water on her face before running to a neighbour’s flat and asking him to ring an ambulance.
Mr Moran said it wasn’t the first time they had taken cocaine, but they didn’t take it regularly. “She had done it before during her pregnancy,” he said. The court heard Ms Hart’s parents didn’t know she took cocaine. Her aunt, Jean Brennan, said the tragedy was a waste of two lives and said the family would have done something had they known she was taking cocaine. “We find it so hard to believe . . . so late in pregnancy to take cocaine,” she said.
The coroner recorded a verdict of death by misadventure and expressed his condolences to the family. “Tragically, Lisa lost her life as a result of using the cocaine and the baby died as well. I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am,” he said.