Death elicits drug warning

Risks associated with illegal drug use have been highlighted by Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar in his formal findings on the death of a 48-year-old Dunedin man.

Laszlo Vegh, also known as Leslie Vegh, died on January 4 last year at a Seacliff house. The sickness beneficiary had gone to the house, occupied by a friend, where both men injected themselves with morphine.

A third man was present but did not ingest drugs.

In his written findings, released yesterday, Mr Crerar said Mr Vegh injected himself with a ''very large dose'' of morphine then collapsed and died.

A St John ambulance was called to the address and paramedics alerted police to Mr Vegh's death.

Autopsy results detected about 0.3mg of morphine per litre of blood.

''Such a concentration was within the levels determined by ESR to be a fatal concentration,'' Mr Crerar said.

He said there was no suggestion Mr Vegh had been, or was, suicidal.

Police concluded no other person assisted Mr Vegh with his drug-taking, although the occupant of the address was convicted of permitting premises to be used for taking drugs.

Mr Crerar said police determined the death of Mr Vegh was the result of a self-inflicted and unintentional overdose of morphine and, as a coroner, he was satisfied with that conclusion.

Mr Crerar highlighted the dangers faced by people preparing and injecting illegal drugs.

''It is impossible for the dosage of self-prepared drugs to be calculated exactly, and the tolerance between a dosage intended to create the perceived recreational effects of the drug and a fatal dosage is slight.

''The public is warned not to take drugs not prescribed for them,'' he said.

rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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