Ad­dict’s death ‘a tragic case’


Un­con­scious, face down and ly­ing in the rear carpark of Ro­torua’s Sudima Ho­tel.

That was how a passerby found Mau­rice Ju­nior Pa­pariu Murtagh, 20, on May 24 last year.

Just eight days later on June 3, he was dead.

De­tails of the short life, and early pass­ing, of Murtagh were out­lined at the Coroner’s in­quest into his death at the Ro­torua Dis­trict Court on Mon­day.

Con­sta­ble William Ea­gle was first to give ev­i­dence, telling the court how Murtagh was found by a pass­ing cy­clist ly­ing ‘‘face down and not mov­ing’’.

He said an­other man at­tempted to give Murtagh CPR in the ten min­utes it took for an am­bu­lance to ar­rive.

He was taken to Ro­torua Hospi­tal were he was found to be suf­fer­ing from un­sur­viv­able brain in­jury caused by car­diac ar­rest. He was then taken to his moth­ers home and cared for by Hos­pice staff un­til his death on June 3.

Ea­gle said Murtagh was ‘‘known to the po­lice and it was com­mon knowl­edge he huffed’’.

He said he was found with two aerosol cans of de­odor­ant, an or­na­men­tal sword and a cig­a­rette lighter.

‘‘No other per­sons are in­volved,’’ Ea­gle said.

Sergeant Tere Rai also gave ev­i­dence, not­ing Murtagh had been ar­rested 24 times in to­tal on a num­ber of charges rang­ing from dis­or­derly be­hav­iour, fail­ure to ap­pear in court, bail breaches, shoplift­ing and dis­hon­esty of­fences.

On al­most every oc­ca­sion Murtagh was de­scribed as in­tox­i­cated.

He said on one ar­rest on June 6, 2015, Murtagh told po­lice staff ‘‘he would like a gun to shoot him­self’’.

Coroner Michael Robb asked Rai whether the pat­tern of ar­rests and in­tox­i­ca­tion was un­usual.

‘‘The fre­quency with which Mr Murtagh came to our at­ten­tion isn’t that com­mon,’’ he said.

Fur­ther ev­i­dence was given by Lakes DHB clin­i­cal di­rec­tor of men­tal health Dr Darren Malone and Te Utuhina Manaak­i­tanga clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Dr Re­becca Wir­i­hana.

Both de­scribed deal­ing with a young man in the grip of strong ad­dic­tions, and whose men­tal health also fluc­tu­ated. Malone de­scribed the death as a ‘‘tragic case’’.

Robb said he would is­sue draft find­ings at the end of this week.

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