Change needed after booze death - coroner

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 15:03 06/03/2014

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The death of a Porirua party-goer after he knocked back 20 shots and 10 bourbon mixers in a night of drinking games has been highlighted by a coroner concerned by New Zealand's heavy boozing culture.

Coroner CJ Devonport's inquiry into the death of Cannons Creek 48-year-old Johnny Moko, 48 found the storeman had consumed a lethal cocktail of beers, mixers, liqueurs and straight bourbon the night before he died in October last year.

Mr Moko is estimated to have died on or about Sunday 27 October 2013, the day after the party, found in the same position his mates left him on his couch.

The night before he died he had been playing drinking games while he and a group of mates watched a rugby final.

In his report published today, the coroner has highlighted Mr Moko's death, found to have been caused by acute alcohol toxicity, as a warning that the speedy consumption of alcohol promoted in drinking games can prove deadly.

Mr Moko's size - he was described as "morbidly obese" in the report - was also noted as a factor in his death.

''Communities and individuals must contribute to a change in New Zealand's drinking culture to reduce alcohol-related harm," Mr Devonport concluded.

One party-goer told the inquiry that Mr Moko bought a box of beers and a box of Woodstock bourbon pre-mixed drinks on the way to the party.

There he was seen drinking one to two beers, 10 of the Woodstocks and an estimated 20 shots of spirits comprising liqueurs peach schnapps and sambuca as well as straight bourbon, according to the coroner's report.

Afterward, Mr Moko was taken to his home in Cannons Creek by his brother and a workmate who was sober driving, about 11.30pm.

The pair helped Mr Moko into his house and put him on a couch in the living room, placing a blanket over him.

When Mr Moko did not turn up for work on Monday, and then failed to show again the next without phoning in sick, his workmate became concerned.

The man and another workmate drove to Mr Moko's house after finishing work in the small hours of the morning on October 30. They found him dead, in the same clothing and position he was last seen alive.

A post mortem examination and medical records analysis found no underlying health issues other than that Mr Moko, at 172cm and weighing 124kg, led a doctor to describe him as "morbidly obese." 

According to the coroner's report Mr Moko's his weight would have compounded breathing difficulties induced by drinking.

Toxicologists found Mr Moko had a blood alcohol level of 354 milligrams per 100ml - the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers aged over 20 in New Zealand is 80mg per 100ml of blood.

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Mr Devonport made particular mention of the role of drinking games in Mr Moko's death, saying the heavy drinking link in his death must be made public.

"The message must be reinforced that alcohol consumed in excess can cause death. The rapid consumption of alcohol in drinking games can contribute to an excess consumption of alcohol, and death."

- The Dominion Post

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