Medical student killed by cocktail of legal high and ecstasy

‘He was throwing stuff on the floor and hallucinating’


A medical student at Bristol died after taking a legal high that lethally combined with ecstasy, an inquest heard.

A coroner’s court heard how Douglas Ferguson had taken a hallucinogenic substance while at the home of friend Alex Pearson, whose parents were away on holiday.

The drug was the anti-depressant alpha-Methyltryptamine, known as AMT, which can be legally bought in the UK.

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Additionally, in the hours leading to his death, 19-year-old Mr Ferguson had also been taking Ecstasy as well as drinking and smoking cannabis.

Douglas, who studied medicine, was back home visiting family and friends after completing his first year at university.

During the course of the night he kept topping up the amount of AMT he was taking, believing it was not working.

However in the early hours of the morning he began sweating profusely and became increasingly agitated.

Alex Pearson said: “He smashed a vase and a flower pot. He was throwing stuff on the floor. He was running around being energetic and hallucinating.

“I thought in time it would go away.”

An ambulance was then called. Despite the best efforts of the staff at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Douglas’ heart stopped and he could not be revived.

Pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said the main cause of death was sparked by mixing AMT with Ecstasy. This created a deadly condition called serotonin syndrome.

Coroner Grahame Short said: “The effect was to cause his brain to swell and bleed.

“I don’t think it was a deliberate overdose.

“I believe it was a young man who was experimenting with the effect of drugs and not realising until too late how potent they could be when taken in large quantities.

“Unfortunately too many young people have discovered this to their cost.”