Ecstacy not cause of death, family
By Leslie Ann Horgan - The Southland Times | Saturday, 15 December 2007
The family of a Queenstown man who died at a nightclub yesterday disputed the pathologist's findings that ecstacy had caused his death.
Peter Tamati Cowie, 27, collapsed at Subculture in Church St in the early hours of July 8. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate him and he died at the scene.
Mr Cowie's fiancee, Natalie Powley, 25, giving evidence in the Coroner's Court hearing in Queenstown yesterday, said they had shared an ecstacy tablet in the Revolver nightclub earlier.
In her evidence, Ms Powley said she and Mr Cowie had attended a wedding in the GibbstonValley at 2pm on July 7. At midnight they returned to Queenstown and met up with Mr Cowie's brothers in Revolver, where she and Mr Cowie each took half an ecstacy tablet.
"I had taken the tablet to Revolver in my purse. Tams had gotten it at the wedding and I put it in my bag. He was not big on that stuff -- it was a one-time thing." She said they had shared three ecstacy tablets in their time together but never took other drugs.
Emily Adamson, the partner of Mr Cowie's brother Joseph and who was sitting with Mr Cowie, said Mr Cowie didn't seem intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
"Tamati was sitting upright, looking at me, speaking normally. He stopped mid-sentence and his face went blank and fell. His lips and eyes just fell. He didn't faint or collapse ..." Mr Cowie slumped to the floor and was taken into a back room by bar staff and friends and emergency services were called.
An autopsy carried out by Dr Ahmed Shogun found Mr Cowie had suffered a pulmonary oedema followed by massive heart failure.
The level of alcohol in his blood was 133mg/100ml, about twice the legal limit for an adult driver. The level of MDMA (ecstacy) in his blood was 0.22mg/100ml and a trace amount of methamphetamine was detected.
The pathologist concluded the MDMA was most likely the cause of the heart failure.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Joseph Cowie, said they disagreed.
"His blood level of MDMA was one-third the level for impairment and one-fifth of what is considered fatal.
"We do not feel that there is enough evidence linking MDMA as the cause of his sudden heart failure." Coroner David Crerar, of Dunedin, said he was satisfied with the pathologist's verdict.