A north London taxi driver died after unwittingly drinking pure liquid cocaine from a rum bottle given to him as a gift, a court heard.
Lascell Malcolm, 63, from Haringey, had been handed the bottle of Bounty Rum by friend Antoinette Corlis after refusing to take payment for a lift home after she returned from a Caribbean holiday.
She in turn had been given the bottle by a friend, Michael Lawrence, who was carrying it back to the UK from St Lucia for acquaintance Martin Newman.
Newman, 50, of Wadeville Avenue, Romford, Essex, was the only one who knew there was 246g (8.7oz) of pure cocaine dissolved into the alcohol, and that just a teaspoon of the liquid could be fatal.
He had given two bottles to Mr Lawrence before flying from St Lucia to Gatwick Airport, claiming his own baggage was overweight.
It was intended that he would collect the bottles upon arrival in the UK, but Newman was detained by Customs officers.
Mr Lawrence waited for Newman for a short while before leaving to catch a connecting flight to his home in Switzerland, giving one of the bottles to Ms Corlis.
Mr Malcolm, a father-of-two, had drunk a shot of the rum along with a pint of Guinness, hours after Ms Corlis had given him the bottle on May 25 last year. But at 4am the next day, he called emergency services telling them he could not walk, had a headache and thought he was dying.
He was admitted and discharged from hospital but later collapsed and died in front of his son Richard. He had suffered a heart attack brought on by cocaine poisoning.
The link to the cocaine-laced rum emerged later that day when two friends, visiting Mr Malcolm's house to pay their respects, found the bottle and decided to make a toast.
Both men, Charles Roach and Trevor Tugman, spat out the foul-tasting liquid but were taken to hospital after suffering seizures.
Oliver Glasgow, prosecuting, told Croydon Crown Court that Newman, born in St Lucia, had a duty of care to anyone who came into contact with the bottles. Newman denies manslaughter and importing Class A drugs. The trial is set to last for two weeks.
20th July 2010