ONE of the highest levels of the drug ecstasy ever recorded in the UK was found in the body of a popular Falmouth man who died after being taken ill whilst attending a rave.
Tyre fitter Samuel Thornton, 20, of Glasney Road, Falmouth, also known as Skinny, died on October 10, 2010 whilst out celebrating his birthday with friends.
An inquest in Truro last week heard he had taken MDMA and had died “because he’d taken ecstasy” and that the level was the ‘highest’ on record.
Mr Thornton had been out in Falmouth on Saturday, October 9, 2010 before returning home to get changed to go to a rave called Pop Clique in Penryn in the early hours of Sunday morning.
He had been drinking alcohol and was said to be in high spirits by his friends, having earlier been dressed as a banana and riding on a green space hopper through the streets.
He arrived at the rave in a warehouse on the Kernick Industrial Estate at around 2.30am on October 10 where he was seen by friend James Edwards.
“He seemed happy and drunk,” he said. Although he didn’t see him for much of the evening, at one point Mr Thornton asked Mr Edwards if he’d like to ‘share a line’. Mr Edwards told the inquest he took this to mean drugs.
They went outside and found a VW camper van and asked the owner if they could go inside. They agreed and once inside Mr Edwards drank a bottle of beer, but when he asked Mr Thornton for his share of the drugs he told him he’d taken them all. “I said ‘What all of it?’” said Mr Edwards “You’re nuts.”
They went back into the rave but, at around 5am, Sam became agitated and was taken outside. He collapsed on the ground and became incoherent and was flailing his arms around. He was extremely hot and friends tried to cool him down by pouring water over him. Another friend, Ben Rochester, told the inquest in a statement that Sam’s heartbeat “was going crazy”.
An ambulance was called but paramedics had to call the police for assistance because Mr Thornton was flailing around violently and proving impossible to treat.
Truro coroner Emma Carlyon was told that the police had to put handcuffs onto his wrists and strap him onto the stretcher before he could be taken to hospital. Burt this did not contribute to his death.
PC Paul Shimmen, of Falmouth Police Station, who accompanied Mr Thornton to the hospital, told the inquest in a statement that Mr Thornton was kicking his legs and kept sitting bolt upright involuntarily. He said did not think he was being deliberately violent but felt it was uncontrollable. He was hallucinating and seemed to think he was still on the dancefloor.
"He had wild staring eyes and I was certain he was hallucinating. He appeared to be locked into another reality," he said. Once at the hospital Mr Thornton was treated by the team at the A&E department but his condition rapidly deteriorated and at around 9.15am he suffered a cardiac arrest and, despite the best efforts of the medical team to revive him, he was declared dead at 10am.
Dr Hugh Jones, consultant pathologist, at the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Truro told the inquest that Sam had died “because he took ecstasy.”
Giving evidence over the phone, toxicologist Steve Morley said that the amount of MDMA in Mr Thornton’s body was the “highest on record” and was enough to induce “epileptic” type seizures.
“It was an extremely high level,” he said. “He would have fits, a very high body temperature become agitated, aggressive and hyper active. The most likely cause of death was an epileptic seizure,” he said.
Recording a verdict of accidental death Emma Carlyon said Mr Thornton had died as a result of taking ecstasy.