What boys did on evil drug before death
A court has heard harrowing details of what happened when five men ingested an evil synthetic drug that took their lives in 2016 and 2017.
The five men, aged between 17 and 32, didn't know each other and had little in common besides how they died - on nights partying that went horribly wrong after ingesting a drug they thought was MDMA, the Coroners Court of Victoria heard on Wednesday.
One - described by friends as "the happiest person you'll ever meet" - threw himself off a balcony, Victoria Police Leading Senior Constable Duncan McKenzie told the court.
Another charged at a young woman, a door, and a window, and was in such a wild state that he had to be restrained by his friends for 20 minutes before he went limp and stopped breathing, Sen-Constable McKenzie said.
A third couldn't remember his own name in the hours leading up to his death, the court heard.
The inquest, in front of coroner Paresa Spanos, intends to find out how the drugs were obtained, their effects, and what is was known about them from an Australian and global perspective.
Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine chief toxicologist Dimitri Gerostamoulos told the court the substance was a deadly combination of two synthetic drugs: 25C-NBOMe, a hallucinogenic with similarities to LSD, and 4-Fluoroamphetamine, a stimulant similar to ice.
In combination the substances could destroy the body's ability to flush them out, causing effects to linger far beyond a typical recreational drug and leading to cardiac arrest and brain damage, he said.
DRUG 'LIKE A DREAM'
Anson, whose full name cannot be revealed, was only 17 when he decided to take what he thought was MDMA at a friend's house, the court heard.
On July 25, 2016, he had worked at his parents' restaurant before going to a gaming venue with his core group of five friends, detective Senior Constable Paul Bate said.
He used MDMA "every one to two months" and on this day he had access to capsules that his friend told him were "like a dream" - so he tried the powder inside.
His friends told Sen-Constable Bate what happened to him next.
At first, he "looked lost and like he wanted to escape", a friend told police.
"I asked, 'Do you know who I am? and Anson just looked at me," he said.
"(I) patted him on the shoulder, but he just kept looking around."
Anson began talking about himself in the third person and getting angry with his friends, the court heard.
It heard he was asked what his name was, and he said he didn't know.
"He kept winking and making clicking sounds and made a 'Hawaii' symbol with his right hand - he kept doing this simultaneously every three to four seconds," his friend told police.
He started "banging his head repeatedly against the wall" and swinging his arms around uncontrollably.
He vomited "a pinkish-red colour, like creaming soda".
The court heard another boy who had taken the synthetic drug was inside his car for hours - and couldn't remember a single second afterwards.
Meanwhile, Anson put his arm through a window and there was "so much blood", a friend told police.
Paramedics arrived and took him to hospital, where he died of a combination of brain damage and organ failure.
'THE SOUND OF HIM HITTING THE DOOR WAS SO LOUD'
Jordan, 22, wasn't a big drinker or user of recreational drugs - preferring footy, dirt bikes, and wakeboarding, the court heard.
He loved to go on weekend adventures with his long-term girlfriend or parts of his big group of friends, detective Senior Constable Christine Johnstone told the court.
But on December 21, 2016, after spending the day go-karting and playing paintball, he decided to take what he thought was MDMA with a group of male friends.
The behaviour of the boys after that was the stuff of nightmares, a group of girls who were there told police.
"When we walked through the front door we saw (another man) Tom standing in the front room," one woman told Sen-Constable Johnstone.
"He was just looking at the wall. He was saying strange things about life and was dancing.
"It was like he was in another world. He kept asking if he was going to die."
Jordan was pacing up and down in the hallway, the court heard.
"He went outside and we followed him," the friend told police.
"Outside he was running around.
"He kept looking behind like someone was chasing him.
"He looked scared."
He ran into a table tennis table and broke it - and then charged at a girl who was standing nearby, the court heard.
Meanwhile, another boy was sitting on the ground, "just sitting with his hands on his head, rocking".
The friend said Jordan charged at a window but ran into a bench, then ran as fast as he could into a door.
"The sound of him hitting the door was so loud," she said.
The girls fled into a bedroom and could hear Jordan smashing up another room from their hiding place, Sen-Constable Johnstone told the court.
Three of the men in the house tackled and restrained him and kept him there for 20 minutes "to prevent him from hurting himself further or hurting anyone else".
He went limp, the court heard, and the boys attempted to revise him before paramedics arrived.
He died in hospital, Sen-Constable Johnstone said.
POLICE INVESTIGATE SYNTHETIC DRUG DEATHS
Three other men died in late 2016 and 2017 after ingesting the synthetic substance which had been sold to them in the guise of a more benign illegal drug, Sen-Constable McKenzie told the court.
James, 23, a traveller from the UK who "loved life one million per cent", rolled off a 10th-floor balcony after saying 'f**k this' to friends, the court heard.
Jason, 30, hit his head against furniture after having a seizure, he said.
Ilka, 32, was with his friends when he took the drug and died in December 2016, he said.
Sen-Constable McKenzie told the court that in January 2017, 20 people were admitted to hospital from Chapel St nightclubs after ingesting the same substance.
Since that time 10 people have been apprehended by police in relation to distributing the drug, he said.
The coronial inquest will focus on what could prevent a similar drug taking lives in the future, Ms Spanos said.
Originally published as What boys did on evil drug before death