Original article no longer available
The Brisbane Times
June 29, 2009 – 6:29 PM
Five people allegedly poisoned – two fatally – by a NSW man, were experimental addicts who even bragged about drugs, a defence barrister has told a Sydney court.
Shaun Bateson, 22, and Brian Hadfield, 29, died in mid-2004 after ingesting a toxic combination of the anti-depressants Aurorix and Effexor.
In January 2005, two people were hospitalised and a third became unwell after taking the same drug cocktail.
Daniel Charles Riley has pleaded not guilty to two counts of manslaughter and three counts of using poison to endanger a life after allegedly introducing all five to the lethal combination which prosecutors say gave him a high.
The 39-year-old, from Burrier on NSW’s south coast, who has a history of depression, is accused of recommending the practice of combining the prescription medication despite knowing of its potentially fatal consequences.
He gave Nicole Mullane, 22, the cocktail of drugs at her home at Taree on NSW’s mid-north coast in June 2000 and saw her lapse into a coma for days after falling sick.
Riley himself had been hospitalised from an overdose of the combination, crown prosecutor Ken McKay said in his opening address to jurors at Riley’s trial in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on Monday.
“He was well aware of the significant problems and dangers associated with taking this combination,” Mr McKay told the jury.
“He was proud … of the discovery that the combination of these two drugs causes a high.”
But defence barrister Tania Evers said Riley took the combination just to “feel normal” and that it was the “only successful combination to combat his depression”.
He may have “exalted its praises” but Riley was not responsible for forcing his friends to try the poisonous practice – they did that on their own, she said.
“These were people who experimented with drugs, who were addicted to drugs … who even bragged about drugs,” she said.
“These are people with a history of drug use, a history of heroin use, a history of mental illness – perhaps their reliability is not the highest.”
When Amanda Ryan, Michael Wilson and John Willans took the drugs with Riley in January 2005 he had even warned them about the possible side effects, Ms Evers said.
“For two days they took anything they could get their hands on,” she said.
“Mr Willans said Mr Riley told them it was dangerous to take too many.
“This is a group of people who were there to get a high, to experiment – they had a warning and they continued.”
The trial, which is expected to last up to five weeks, continues before Judge Martin Blackmore.