THE horrific overdose deaths of two young Hunter men after they were “cooked from the inside” have prompted fears about the possible re-emergence of killer synthetic drugs.
Both men died on Thursday following separate long and violent psychotic episodes where their core temperatures rose to fatal levels, including one man whose body temperature reached over 42 degrees celsuis.
They were also known users of methamphetamine, and are believed to have used the drug in the days leading up to their deaths, but authorities believe toxicology tests and autopsies could show they succumbed to a substance other than ice.
“I know it’s the old message, but this really shows that people have absolutely no idea what they are taking; and it could well be killing them,’’ one senior detective told Fairfax Media.
“Whether it’s a bad batch of ice, some form of synthetic drug, a bad cocktail of drugs or something thrown into pills, does it really matter.
“These deaths are horrible ways to go.’’
A Corlette man, 27, was tackled to the ground after being found running in between traffic near Hannell Street at Maryville on Tuesday.
He was subdued and taken to John Hunter Hospital under escort, where his core body temperature surpassed 42 degrees as he lapsed into a coma and placed in intensive care.
He died on Thursday morning without regaining consciousness.
The man, a long-time ice user, was known to have taken the drug from a batch which had been used by other addicts who did not suffer the same symptoms.
Then on Thursday afternoon, Port Stephens detectives thought they were investigating a homicide after the body of a 21-year-old man was found inside a Raymond Terrace home with significant cuts and bruises over his body.
An investigation found he had been in a psychosis, possibly for several days, where he was seen to violently jump around in a baby bath in an effort to cool himself down.
He is believed to have taken ecstasy the weekend previous, and ice in the days leading up to the death.
The deaths come just 14 months after Dean Shield, 17, died and two others were close to death after taking a form of “synthetic cannabis” at Maitland.
Dean’s death prompted another major police crackdown on synthetic cannabis dealers across the Hunter.
Detectives investigating the latest deaths are hopeful that forensic pathologists may provide some answers following autopsies on Monday.
However, toxicology results which could determine what substance – and the amount – could take six weeks.