An underage drinker died of major brain injuries after repeatedly striking his head because he was so intoxicated, a coroner’s court heard yesterday.
The chain of events which ultimately cost Graeme Gilbert his life began when he started drinking Buckfast with a friend near Carrickfergus Castle last summer.
The court heard the 17-year-old student “downed” a 70cl bottle of the strong tonic wine, in what friend Stuart Mather said was an effort to beat his record for finishing the whole lot as fast as possible.
He said Graeme had also taken cocaine and five “blues” – slang for diazepam.
They then went back to a house where, over a maximum of two hours, Mr Gilbert drank several bottles of Stella Artois and more Buckfast.
As the day wore on he became more and more visibly drunk, and one witness described him as “paralytic”.
He fell to the ground after they left the house and was struggling to walk or talk properly, the inquest heard.
Bleeding from the mouth and with cuts on his face, he rebuffed offers of help until being knocked out by a final fall.
He was described as laid out on the ground, making a kind of “snoring” sound.
This, said coroner Jim Kitson, was a tell-tale sign of serious head injuries.
He was operated on but died three days later on August 29.
Described as happy and generally in good health by his mother, she added he became a bit distant as his drug problem took hold, although he had been seeking help.
Mr Kitson offered his condolences for what he said was a “dreadful waste of such a young life”.