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Jailed for Manslaughter After Giving Friend Heroin

Really? | … it does Happen!

The United States isn’t the only country to crack down on the sharing and selling of drugs by making it a felony to give someone any drug if they end up overdosing and/or dying after using it. A recent case in Belfast found that Conor McVeigh was guilty of manslaughter when his addict friend, Gareth Douglas, died after McVeigh while giving his friend a heroin injection was then jailed for manslaughter. The penalty for the charge is five years.

This wasn’t the first time that McVeigh gave Douglas drugs. A week earlier, McVeigh smuggled marijuana into Douglas’ drug addiction treatment program. When he later gave Douglas a heroin injection that ultimately killed him, McVeigh did not fight the manslaughter charge in court. Instead, he admitted to smuggling both drugs into the facility.

In other cases, friends who gave others their prescription painkillers or supplied street drugs to those who ended up overdosing and dying as a result have been convicted of manslaughter as well. What makes this case a little bit different is that McVeigh didn’t just supply Douglas with heroin but actually injected the drug into his friend – Douglas was found dead the following morning. One of the biggest arguments against serious legal penalties like prison time for this kind of charge is the fact that the victim, as long as they are of age, made the choice to purchase or take the drug and ultimately to ingest it. In this case, Douglas did not take the drug himself; it was McVeigh who did the injecting, which makes him more culpable.

It is clear, however, from accounts of others who were present that Douglas was complicit in the act. Douglas apparently did not verbally request that McVeigh inject him with heroin but did hold his arm out to McVeigh in a nonverbal request that he inject him. Another person also present was injected with the same heroin solution by McVeigh at the same time. They went to lie down on couches in a nearby room. The other person woke up. Douglas did not.

A long history of criminal counts of drug possession and active drug use did not help McVeigh’s case, either. Though he initially pleaded not guilty, he ultimately changed his plea to guilty a week before the trial – both to manslaughter and to supplying the drugs. The judge noted that both McVeigh and Douglas were responsible for Douglas’ death because both took part and Douglas wanted the heroin as he was an active drug abuser. The sentence that McVeigh received came to five years total – four years for manslaughter and one year for supplying the drugs.

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