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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

19-year-old man dies after taking ecstasy pills on night out with friends

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Filed photo: A corpse

A teenager died after taking triple-strength ecstasy pills called the ‘Punisher’ which were named after a popular programme, an inquest heard.

Harley Girven bought three of the blue high-strength MDMA tablets for £10 on a night out with friends.

The 19-year-old took two tablets before being found dead in bed at his flat.

The inquest heard the disabled teenager, who was wheelchair-bound and deemed ‘vulnerable’ because of his cerebral palsy, felt ‘caged in’ in everyday life unless he was high on ecstasy.

However, a coroner branded Harley’s actions ‘reckless’ and issued a warning against using the ‘dangerous’ drug.

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Blue Punisher MDMA pills were brought into circulation following the successful Netflix vigilante show called ‘The Punisher’ and bore the skull logo used by the programme’s protagonist, assassin Frank Castle.

The high strength triangular blue ecstasy pill called 'punisher'

Harley, whose friends recognised the triangle tablets he bought due to the Netflix show, was pronounced dead around noon in his flat in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight on June 29, 2019.

The fatal dose Harley consumed was just the fourth time he tried ecstasy, it was heard.

He had expressed fears he’d never marry and have children.

One friend told the inquest: “He said he felt caged in a lot and the only time he was not was when he was on a pill.”

His devastated parents said Harley, who could not use his legs and had one properly functioning arm, started using cannabis to ease his pain and was still ‘heartbroken’ over the death of his older brother two years before.

The inquest heard the night before his death Harley met with friends near his home and asked “Do you want to get beaned up?”

He asked one to break up a pill for him, but they refused. Moments later Harley had swallowed it.

In a statement the concerned friend said: “When I turned around again Harley said ‘I need a drink, that’s left a bad taste in my mouth’ and I said ‘have you taken it? What have you done that for?’ and I called him a dickhead.

“His jaw was moving as you’d expect, his pupils were dilated, he seemed really happy.”

Just after midnight Harley and two friends returned to his flat, where Harley took another pill and his friends smoked cannabis.

In another statement one of his friends said: “Harley was sat with his t-shirt off and he said he took a Punisher and was grinning, he was really high’.”

The friend, who did not have concerns for his welfare, carried Harley to bed around 5am and was told ‘I love you’.

The following morning, they presumed Harley was sleeping in, however they were left horrified when they found him unresponsive in bed, with his own vomit and blood around him.

His mother, primary school worker Bonnie McBride, said since Harley lost his 20 year old brother Mikey in a car accident two years ago, she feared he would take his own life, and that he had tried to overdose on prescription medicine.

Mrs McBride said: “When the police arrived I didn’t even let them in before I insisted they told me what happened. When they said ‘Harley’ I said ‘oh my god, he’s killed himself hasn’t he?’

“In a way I think he did, I don’t think he cared whether he would die or not. He was trying to get away from the physical pain and the heartbreak of losing his brother.

“He loved his family so much.”

She said he suffered added ‘challenges’ growing up due to his cerebral palsy.

Paying tribute to her son, she said: “Harley had a wonderful personality and would laugh and joke with everyone he met.”

Harley’s father, Robert Girven, said his son’s increased use of cannabis to aid his pain caused him ‘angry outbursts’.

The last time he saw him, three days before his death, they laughed and joked together.

At Isle of Wight Coroner’s Court in Newport, coroner Caroline Sumeray, recording a verdict of drug related death, warned against using MDMA.

Mrs Sumeray said: “Harley was only 19. He had some real difficulties in his life and had been challenged by the fact he had cerebral palsy.

“He was a happy boy until he realised what his future looked like and what he might not be able to achieve and that really affected him.

“He had dark times but there was no intention [of taking his own life]. He was reckless, but there were reasons why he took cannabis, it was a well-known recreational drug.

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