Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Cocaine juice death of Joromie Lewis was 'accidental'

Joromie Lewis Image copyright Hampshire police
Image caption Joromie Lewis, a Royal Navy veteran, died on the eve of his daughter's birthday

The death of a man who sipped a pear juice drink laced with cocaine was accidental, an inquest jury has ruled.

Joromie Lewis, 33, from Hampshire, had picked a bottle off the floor at an import export company he worked for on 5 December.

The inquest, in Winchester, heard Mr Lewis spat the Caribbean drink out immediately, saying it tasted "bitter".

But he had consumed a lethal amount of cocaine and died on the eve of his three-year-old daughter's birthday.

'Tragedy'

Tests showed Mr Lewis, who died within hours in hospital, had 21.3 mg of cocaine per litre of blood in his body.

Home Office pathologist Basil Purdue said the Royal Navy veteran died of cocaine intoxication and that just 1 mg could be fatal.

"We're dealing with an overwhelming overdose of the drug," he said.

Image copyright Hampshire police
Image caption Laboratory analysis showed the pear juice contained a lethal amount of cocaine

He said a shot glass-sized measurement of the drink, called Cole Cold Pear-D, consumed by Mr Lewis, would have contained eight grams of cocaine.

He added one of Mr Lewis's colleagues put some of the liquid on his tongue and caused it to go numb for three hours.

Tests showed what was left of the drink had 189 grams of cocaine dissolved in it.

The inquest heard Mr Lewis, from Gosport, had taken a bottle of the fruit cordial, normally only sold in the Caribbean, which had split from a pallet of drinks shipped through import export business Kelly's Shipping UK Ltd, based in Southampton.

Mr Purdue said the bottle was part of a consignment of 90 cases imported from the island of St Vincent but the bottle had tested positive for dissolved cocaine - a smuggling method for the drug.

The jury of five men and five women returned a verdict of accidental death.

Central Hampshire coroner Graham Short said: "This was a tragedy in the real sense of that word because this was a man who was working to support his family and innocently consumed what he thought was a soft drink."

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