A man whose body was found after a screening of a Twilight
film in Wellington died from excessive alcohol, a coroner has
Damian Anthony Smythe, 23, was found dead in the Reading
Cinema on Courtenay Pl after a screening of Twilight on July
Coroner Ian Roderick Smith, in his findings released today,
said a post-mortem examination and medical tests revealed Mr
Smythe died from acute alcohol toxicity, with a blood alcohol
level of 569 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.
Police evidence showed Mr Smythe, who was unemployed, sneaked
into the 6pm showing of the film without paying.
While the movie was playing, Mr Smythe left through an exit
and spoke to a staff member at the cinema who directed him
where to go for a cigarette.
A short time later he went back into the cinema.
Another movie-goer, who was sitting behind Mr Smythe during
the film, later told police she saw him "scull" at least half
a bottle of whisky before he slumped forward and started
About five minutes before the end of the movie he became
silent, the woman said.
When cleaners entered the cinema at 8.20pm, they noticed Mr
Smythe slumped in his seat with an empty 1-litre bottle of
Johnnie Walker Whisky beside him.
"When the cleaner could not wake him she called security who
immediately found the deceased was cold and blue in the
face," Coroner Smith said.
Cinema staff followed by ambulance officers tried to
resuscitate Mr Smythe but he could not be revived.
Mr Smythe's father said his son had an alcohol problem and he
had tried to get him to go into rehabilitation.
Mr Smythe also had a criminal record of stealing from
businesses including supermarkets and liquor stores and had
been served with several trespass notices.
Coroner Smith described Mr Smythe's death as "a sad, tragic
loss of the life of a person so young".