Lack of answers around pill death

00:28, Jul 05 2014
Shae Hemopo
BAFFLING DEATH: Shae Hemopo died in 2012 after taking mystery pills a friend found in a cupboard.

The father of a Pahiatua 18-year-old, who died after taking mystery pills a friend found in a cupboard, says a coroner's inquest has shed no new light on his son's death.

Shae Hemopo was found dead at a rural Pahiatua property on the morning of July 7, 2012.

Coroner Christopher Devenport said the teenager's death could not be put down to a specific cause.

He found that Hemopo spent the night drinking with three friends - who have name suppression - before one of them procured some pills they said they found in a kitchen cupboard.

The three friends confirmed that they all took half a pill each, then another half, before going to bed. Hemopo never woke up.

The death was initially treated as unexplained, but was referred to the coroner after a pathologist found anti-psychosis drug clozapine in Hemopo's system.


It was likely the clozapine contributed to his death.

While the amount of clozapine in Hemopo's blood was not excessive - less than a fifth of the lowest known fatal level in other cases - an expert told the coroner the drug killed one of every 3000 people who took it.

Hemopo appeared to have been that one, the coroner said.

Only five people in Tararua were prescribed clozapine, and, while Hemopo's friends knew one of them, his drugs were well controlled and had never noticeably gone missing.

The coroner said he was satisfied the clozapine did not come from that person, who also has name suppression, and whoever put the pills in the cupboard remained a mystery.

Hemopo's father, Mark Hemopo, said the family had to fight to get the inquest, as the coroner originally wanted to make a chambers finding.

They wanted the inquest because there had been various rumours about the circumstances in which the pills were found. Although the coroner found that his son took one and one of the three men had admitted burning the pills and packaging before the ambulance arrived, he wanted to know why.

The coroner found that the three men made statements to police that had not disclosed the use of the pills, and denied use of the pills, before later admitting that they and Hemepo had consumed pills, as well as alcohol, that night.

But the inquest had not provided the answers they were looking for, Mark Hemopo said.

The coroner's warning against taking mystery pills was common sense.

"You don't have to go through an inquest to tell your children that."

His son had a building apprenticeship with a person who acted as a life mentor, and was doing well.

"He was in a perfect place, and a great kid. It's an absolute waste."

His son smoked a little marijuana but had been taught to never try anything if he did not know what it was, Mark Hemopo said.

Attempts by the Manawatu Standard to contact Shae Hemopo's three friends were unsuccessful.

Manawatu Standard