Tragic student died after taking lethal dose of powerful antidepressant – in a bid to calm his exam nerves


A student died after taking a lethal dose of a powerful antidepressant in a bid to calm his exam nerves.

Student David Connell, 21 (Hull Daily Mail / SWNS Group)
Student David Connell, 21 (Hull Daily Mail / SWNS Group)

High-flying David Connell, 21, bought the drug etizolam online in an effort to quell his anxiety ahead of his final year exams, an inquest heard.

Tragically he took too much of the drug and his body was found by housemates who broke down his bedroom door after he had not been seen for five days.

The Hull University, East Yorks., computer sciences student, who was on for a first-class honours degree, bought etizolam online from a Scottish company, to tackle to anxiety issues that he kept secret from family and friends.

The drug, which is legal in Japan and India, has been banned for human consumption in most of Europe.

An inquest into David’s death at Hull Coroner’s Court recorded his death as a result of misadventure.

Senior coroner Professor Paul Marks said David had underestimated the strength of the drug, which is up to ten times more powerful than diazepam.

Professor Marks said: “I think this was an experiment to try and find alternate means other than alcohol to dispel his anxiety.

“The pressures of student life are such that people do become anxious and can’t see beyond their finals, which is the culmination of their three-year university course.

“Sadly, this ultimately went tragically wrong and led to David’s sad death.”

David, who was originally from Kirby, in Liverpool, Merseyside, was in the third year of his degree as was a prominent member of the university’s hockey club.

He was last seen on May 5, 2014, five days before his housemate, Michael Scannell, broke down his door to find him lying dead on his bed with his phone on his chest.

(Hull Daily Mail / SWNS Group)
(Hull Daily Mail / SWNS Group)

David bought the drug online for #43 a few days before his death after researching tips over the internet on how to tackle anxiety.

PC Nicholas Munday, who was involved in the investigation into David’s death, told the court: “I found a small clear zip-lock bag with the writing ‘etizolam: reagent only not for human consumption’.

“I called to ask what the drug was, and the response stated that it cannot be legally purchased in the UK, but is in use in eastern countries, where it is used for anxiety and insomnia.

“In the UK, it is classed to be one of the drugs that fall into the category of legal high.”

The drugs can only be used in Britain for research purposes, but is meant to calm the respiratory system, although too high a dose can result in organ failure.

David’s dad, John Connell, said he lat saw his son during the Easter holidays in 2014.

He told the court: “When David came home he seemed completely normal and was no different.

“When we heard what happened it was a total shock to us. When David was at home he was perfectly normal and speaking to his friends at home.

“I had dropped him off at the station and he had even played a little trick on me in the car, which was absolutely normal.”

Professor Marks told David’s parents that their son’s death remained “an enigma”.

He said: “You have lost a brilliant son who was destined to have first-honours at one of the top universities in the country. This is a tragic and very sad case.”

Detective Sergeant Sam Cunnington, who investigated David’s death, said no criminal action would be taken against the drug’s suppliers.

He said people should always check with a doctor before ordering drugs online.

He said: “The death of David Connell is a tragic and very sad loss of life.

“Humberside Police would urge anyone considering using or taking any unregulated medicines or research substances to please think again.

“The internet can be a very dangerous place when it comes to regulation, and I would hate to see someone else lose their life in a similar way to David.”


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