CORONER MUTED ON PARTY-DRUG DEATH
The outcome of an inquest into the country's first reported death from the
party drug One4B has been released almost three years on, but has not
delivered any adverse findings.
Auckland coroner Sarn Herdson said just who gave Shawn Brenner the drug
that killed him and exactly how much he took remained unknown.
She said she would not give any warnings about One4B, as the drug had since
been made illegal.
Whether earlier medical attention would have saved Mr Brenner, it was
"impossible to know".
The coroner's findings on the high-profile death of the 22-year-old were
released yesterday, almost three years after he was taken to hospital and
became the country's first person to die from taking One4B (1,4 butanediol).
Ms Herdson found that Mr Brenner died on April 28, 2001, as a result of
complications from an overdose of the drug, including severe brain damage
The promising young engineering student had been living in a Ponsonby house
which doubled as a consultation room for his father, gynaecologist Bernie
The night he became critically ill, he had been at the house with
girlfriend Michelle Frenkel and friends, who had also been taking One4B.
The drug is a variant of GHB or Fantasy.
He took the drug around 3.45pm and began convulsing, fell unconscious,
vomited in his sleep and lost colour in his face.
Friends checked on him at regular intervals, and when he stopped breathing
they called an ambulance. Both Mr Brenner and Ms Frenkel were taken to
Differing stories were given at the coroner's court hearing in July about
who gave Mr Brenner the drug. Ms Frenkel, in evidence, said it was his
friend Brendon Jones, with whom she and Mr Brenner had taken One4B on other
But Mr Jones said in his statement that either Mr Brenner or Ms Frenkel had
poured a drink containing the One4B.
At the time of the hearing, the Brenner family asked the coroner to find
that it was others who had given Mr Brenner a dangerous dose.
But yesterday, Mr Brenner's mother, Carol, said she was not surprised at
the coroner's findings and did not want to comment on them.
Katerina Cowper, who was at the house the night Mr Brenner died, said she
also did not want to comment on the findings.
A relative of one of Mr Brenner's friends, who was with him before he died,
said most of those at the house that night now lived overseas.
Ms Herdson said it was acknowledged by all parties at the inquest that it
was not the function of the coroner to assign blame or liability, and she
credited the Brenner family for their focus on urging caution about the
potential harm of recreational drugs.
She said she would have made formal recommendations about the risks
associated with GHB, but that task had been superseded by the introduction