A TEENAGER in the HSE's care overdosed on a combination of heroin and toxic levels of an antidepressant while on weekend leave, an inquest has heard.
Louise Herbert (18), who died on the morning of November 20, 2010, at a flat in St. Teresa's Gardens in Dublin's south inner city, had been placed in the HSE's care at nine years old because both her parents were drug users.
She had had 20 different placements in the nine years before her death and had been a resident of the Redwood Extended Care Facility in Stamullen, Co. Meath, for less than a year when she died. She had been on a weekend visit with her grand-aunt Evelyn Herbert at her home in Crumlin when the incident occurred.
Peter Kelly told Dublin's Coroners Court yesterday that he had met the deceased while travelling on the Luas. She had beckoned to him and told him that she had some "yokes" on her and asked if he knew somewhere where she could smoke heroin. Mr. Kelly offered to take her back to his mother's flat in St Teresa's Gardens.
The two made their way there by taxi, paid for by Ms Herbert, and on arrival at the flat they went into a bedroom where she produced two small bags of heroin. Ms Herbert chose to smoke the heroin while he injected it.
They then went to sleep, said Mr Kelly, but he was woken by Ms Herbert's snores at 3am and moved to the living room. At 7.50am he went in to wake Ms Herbert up but as he attempted to shake her, her skin was cold to the touch.
He tried to administer CPR but did not know how. Having called for help from his neighbours, the emergency services were called and Ms Herbert was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to a report from Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis, read out by Coroner Dr Brian Farrell, a toxicology study found traces of heroin and her prescribed medication.
However, it also registered toxically high readings for the anti-depressant Seroxat at .32 microgrammes despite the fact that this was no longer part of her drug regime. This in combination with the heroin, was the cause of her death.
Mrs Herbert told the court that Louise had been in good form that weekend. She had taken her medication -- a combination of mood stabilisers Seroquel and Lamictal -- later than usual and then headed out to meet her sister Sarah for a night out.
Dr Farrell adjourned the case in order to review her medical records.
- Gareth Naughton