Fighting in Derry coroners court disrupts inquest

Fighting broke out at a Coroners Court in Derry yesterday during an inquest into the death of a 31-year-old woman who died after taking ecstasy at a party on January 1 this year.

The fighting erupted between family members of Charmaine Houston who died in the early hours of January 1 after collapsing at a party.

Order was quickly restored and it was unclear what the exact cause of the scuffle was about.

The inquest heard that the mother of three had been drinking during the day of December 31 in her Cornshell Fields home.

After seeing in the New Year with her partner and his brother she left to attend a house party in her cousins house in the same estate accompanied by her partner's brother.

A witness Fiona Callaghan, a cousin of the deceased, told the court that when Charmaine arrived she had noticed that her eyes were 'glassy' and she said she told her she had taken ecstasy.

The dead woman's partner Emmet Gillen said that as far as he knew Charmaine Houston had not taken drugs.

Another witness Nicola O'Sullivan told the court that the deceased had arrived at her house shortly after 3 a.m. and she asked for a drink of water.

A short time later the deceased complained of feeling unwell and said she would be okay if she could lie down.

A little later the woman collapsed and the inquest heard showed no sign of life.

A Doctor Alastair Bentley told the court that the amount of drugs in Charmaine's system suggested that either she had taken more than two tablets or else the tablets she had taken were much stronger than usual for recreation drugs.

The coroner Suzanne Anderson found that the cause of death was toxicity due to ecstasy.

She said such cases highlighted the dangers of taking ecstasy.