Mum, 31, died after taking ecstasy tablets

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A scuffle broke out at a Coroner’s Court in Derry on Friday 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.

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

The inquest heard that Charmaine Houston, a 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 Emmet Gillen and his brother Stephen, she left to attend a house party in her cousin’s house in the same estate, accompanied by Stephen.

Fiona Callaghan, a cousin of the deceased, told the court that when Charmaine arrived she noticed that her eyes were ‘glassy’. Charmaine told her she had taken ecstasy.

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

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

After a short time the deceased complained of feeling unwell and said she would be okay if she could lie down. A little later she collapsed The inquest heard she showed no sign of life.

Stephen Gillen told the court how he recognised the symptoms of someone who had taken ecstasy when he phoned the ambulance.

He was asked had he seen the deceased taking the tablets and he said he had not, but added that he knew what it was by her reaction.

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 recreational 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.