A 21 year old Irish soldier from Strabane died after eating three grams of cocaine, an inquest has heard.
Michael Leitch of Lisnafin Park collapsed after eating a three gram lump of cocaine during a St Stephen's Day party in 2009. He passed away at the Causeway Hospital three days later.
Two friends who were with Mr Leitch on the night he collapsed have given evidence at the inquest into his death at Strabane courthouse.
The inquest was told that Mr Leitch began "acting weirdly" at 3am in a house in Portstewart after returning home from a night club. According to the witnesses, he began fitting and bleeding from the mouth.
Reviewing the medical evidence, coroner Brian Sherrard said that Mr Leitch died of brain damage caused by cocaine toxicity. Mr Sherrard said that the amount of drugs found in Mr Leitch’s system were within the category of recreational usage. But he added, it had led to the deceased’s brain being starved of oxygen, leading to fatal brain damage.
Describing the young soldier as “a young man making an important contribution to our welfare”, Mr Sherrard said, it is important that is how he is remembered - For the man he was more than the nature of his death.