Young Wicklow woman Ailbhe Smith died after first taking cocaine and ecstasy given to her by new boyfriend Glen Burke

A session of the Dublin District Coroner’s Court was hearing evidence that Ailbhe Smith was administered the drugs by her new boyfriend Glen Burke at his home in Swords in the early hours of September 30, 2020.

Ms Smith, 26, from Quill Road, Kilmacanogue, County Wicklow, died the following day at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, where the former DCU student was taken by ambulance after suffering seizures at Mr Burke’s home.

The investigation found Ms Smith met a friend who was home from the United States in Phoenix Park on the evening of September 29, 2020, where they drank some alcohol and ate pizza and chocolate.

She later took a Stoneybatter taxi and arrived at Mr. Burke’s house around midnight.

As evidence, her boyfriend shared how they met on dating site Bumble and it “clicked” that they both shared an interest in water sports.

Glen Burke, of Rigewood Square, Swords, leaves Dublin Borough Coroner’s Court after testifying at the inquest into the death of Ailbhe Smith, 26, of Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow. Photo: Collins

Mr Burke recalled that they had both taken some cocaine and MDMA (aka ecstasy) and drank whiskey, but that she was “fine” before they went to bed.

Mr Burke described how some time later Ms Smith began to sweat and tremble and had to go back to bed because she could not walk.

He described how he held her hand as they lay on the bed until she “lost the ability to hold my hand.”

Mr Burke was visibly upset and said he only found out Ms Smith had died two days after her death when her father called him and wished he could have attended her funeral.

“I wear this every day. For the first year, I couldn’t smile,” said Mr. Burke.

He added: “If I could switch places with Ailbhe, I would.”

Mr Burke told the inquiry that Ms Smith wanted to take drugs and he knew it was her first time taking them.

In response to questions from coroner Aisling Gannon, he said he called an ambulance within 10 minutes of realizing Ms Smith was not well, but wasn’t sure when he made the call.

In a written statement, his flatmate Nikolas Karachev said he heard a knock in the toilet between 8am and 9am and when he went to check, Mr Burke told him he was fine but his girlfriend was not.

Mr Karachev said he was preparing breakfast when Mr Burke burst into the kitchen and told him Ms Smith had suffered a foaming attack.

Mr Karachev said he thought she was fine, although she was breathing heavily. However, when paramedics got to the house, she was unresponsive.

He said Mr Burke told him he really liked Ms Smith even though they had only been together a few months and that his flatmate was “very saddened” by everything that had happened.

Ms Smith’s former longtime boyfriend, Jamie Murphy, said they spoke on the phone on September 29, 2020 as she was excited about her new job, her boyfriend and the return of a friend from the United States.

Mr Murphy said Ms Smith also spoke of wanting to try “acid” but told her he didn’t think it was “a good idea”.

Mr Murphy said that during their 10 years together they never took any substances apart from once on holiday.

The deceased’s brother, Oisín McFarland-Smith, said his sister called him a few days before she died and told him how she planned to try LSD over the coming weekend, but did not say with whom.

Mr McFarland-Smith said his sister was “very strong willed” so if he had advised her against taking drugs she would have done the opposite.

Instead, he recalled telling her to make sure it was small and with people she trusted.

Although he had never met Mr Burke, he found his sister “infatuated” with her new boyfriend.

Ms Smith’s mother, Oona McFarland, gave evidence to Gardaí at Beaumont Hospital that she had officially identified her daughter’s body.

Ms McFarland said hospital staff told them around 6pm on October 1, 2020 that tests had shown Ailbhe was clinically brain dead.

She told the coroner that she had not seen her daughter for a while as Ms Smith had been busy at work and they had only been in touch via text messages.

Ms McFarland said she regretted not seeing where her daughter lived in Dublin after moving from home four months earlier.

Detective Inspector Donncha Maguire said a Garda inquiry found no suspicion of a crime in connection with Ms Smith’s death.

Det Insp Maguire said Ms Smith had used four lines of cocaine and one ecstasy tablet, as well as half a bottle of whiskey with her boyfriend.

Phone records showed Ms Smith exchanged a series of text messages with a friend about their “fun night” between 7.08am and 7.32am on September 30, 2020.

They also confirmed that a call to 999 had been made at 10.39am to visit Mr Burke at his home.

A pathologist, Kathleen Han Suyin, said a post-mortem showed Ms Smith suffered a brain hemorrhage that could affect her respiratory function.

dr Han Suyin said toxicology reports showed the deceased used cocaine and ecstasy “in fairly high doses.”

She said both drugs are stimulants that have the negative effect of increasing the user’s heart rate and blood pressure, which can cause bleeding in the brain.

dr Han Suyin said a series of spots and bruises on Ms. Smith’s body played no role in her death.

When asked by Ms McFarland if the outcome might have been different if her daughter had received medical treatment earlier, Dr. Han Suyin reported that a third of all patients with a cerebral hemorrhage do not survive, while only 20 percent regain full functional independence whether or not there is rapid medical intervention.

“It is a serious disease with high mortality and morbidity,” she added.

Returning the accidental death verdict, Ms Gannon said the medical cause of Ms Smith’s death was “very clear”.

Ms Smith’s family declined to comment on the outcome of the investigation. Young Wicklow woman Ailbhe Smith died after first taking cocaine and ecstasy given to her by new boyfriend Glen Burke

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