David O’Halloran: Tests reveal date rape drug

TOXICOLOGY tests on the body of student David O’Halloran have found high levels of a date rape drug in 
his system, fuelling fresh speculation about the cause of his death.

At the time, police said the teenager was drunk and suffered hypothermia as he attempted to find his way home. Picture: TSPL

The 18-year-old, a first year student at Stirling University, was returning to his campus after a night out in January when he inexplicably wandered off and vanished.

At the time, police said the teenager was drunk and suffered hypothermia as he attempted to find his way home, but his mother Donna always maintained her son’s drinks were spiked, causing his disorientated state.

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Now the results of a toxicology examination by the University of Glasgow’s Forensic Medicine and Science unit show high levels of date rape drug GHB in his system.

Ms O’Halloran, 41, is demanding a fresh police probe and a fatal accident inquiry into her son’s death.

She said yesterday: “In my opinion David’s drinks were spiked. I have always said there is no other explanation. He was not a drug user. He did not take drugs.

“I firmly believe his drink was spiked, and if that is the case then someone out there is guilty of manslaughter. The police have to look at this again, or we should have a fatal accident inquiry.”

David, who was studying maths and education, went missing in the early hours of 18 January, having decided to leave a taxi on his way back from a night out with friends in Stirling.

He was spotted jogging towards the university but then ventured through a field, arriving at a nearby farm wet and with cuts on his hands from clambering over barbed wire.

The teenager, from Kilmaurs, Ayrshire, was seen again outside the campus entrance, before once more walking in the wrong direction and was clearly disorientated. CCTV footage captured him at 2.19am staggering along a road outside a chip shop in nearby Bridge of Allan. He was found dead in a field by a sheep farmer, more than two miles from the university campus.

Ms O’Halloran demanded an independent toxicology report after the tragedy. Three samples of blood were taken, along with two urine samples, and tests were carried out on his liver and his hair.

Crucially, the pathologist found GHB in his urine and hair, with the report stating levels of the substance in his blood were on a par with other fatalities involving the drug.

However, the forensic team was unable to conclude whether this was a result of him taking the drug himself, or it having been put in a drink.

The report states: “The high levels of GHB found in the distal aortic blood and preserved urine sample are consistent with the use or administration of GHB prior to death.

“Unfortunately it is not possible to definitely state whether the deceased had used or been administered GHB or GBL prior to death, or whether he was regularly using the drug prior to his death.”

A separate post-mortem report written by NHS Lothian also concluded the cause of death was “unascertained” and said the theory that David died of exposure is “somewhat speculative”.

GHB, sometimes referred to as liquid ecstasy, lollipops or liquid E, is becoming popular as a recreational drug due to its tendency to produce euphoria and sociability.

However, it can make users disorientated when mixed with alcohol and has also been used to spike drinks because it is colourless, odourless and difficult to detect.

Willie Coffey, the MSP for Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley, yesterday said the toxicology results were “the news that Donna both suspected and feared”.

He added: “I am meeting her soon to see how I can help her to take things forward and would be happy to work with her on any proposals that make our youngsters safer.

“Whether that is pushing for special chemical detection beer mats or protective caps for bottles or any other measures that help, I am happy to press for these too.”

Officials at Police Scotland yesterday said they are seeking “further tests” to establish the source of the GHB in the student’s body.

A spokeswoman said: “Our inquiries are ongoing to establish where the GHB came from and we are seeking further expert opinion.”