Father drank himself to death

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 11:21 07/03/2014
Johnny Moko
EXCESSIVE: Johnny Moko had a high concentration of alcohol in his blood.

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A rugby fan watching a game on TV drank himself to death by consuming two beers, 20 spirit shots and 10 bourbon mixes.

Johnny Moko's needless death highlighted the danger of drinking games, a coroner has said.

The Porirua storeman, 48, is estimated to have died on or about Sunday, October 27, last year. His body was found three days later in the same position his mates had left him in on his couch.

Coroner Christopher Devonport concluded in his report published yesterday that Mr Moko had died after drinking a lethal cocktail of alcohol at a party where he had been playing drinking games and watching the NPC rugby final.

A partygoer told the inquest that Mr Moko bought a box of beers and Woodstock bourbon mixes on the way to the party.

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

Afterwards, he was taken home by a workmate who was the sober driver, and another friend, about 11.30pm. They helped him on to his couch, placing a blanket over him.

When he repeatedly failed to show up for work, colleagues went to his house on October 30, where they found him dead in the same position he was left in.

Mr Devonport made particular mention of the role of drinking games in Mr Moko's death. Toxicologists found he had 354 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood - more than four times the driving limit of 80mg.

"The rapid consumption of alcohol in drinking games can contribute to an excess consumption of alcohol, and death," Mr Devonport said. Mr Moko was overweight, which would have compounded breathing difficulties induced by drinking.

However, his family rejected a doctor's evidence that, at 1.72 metres and 124 kilograms, he was morbidly obese. They said he was a fit man who loved sport, and played club rugby right up until he died.

"He was a great dad, loved and missed by all his family and friends. He was helpful to everyone and missed by all," daughter Kylee Moko said. "Hopefully his death will send a message to young and old."

The coroner's public warning comes after a heavily criticised social media phenomenon "neknominate" - in which players challenge each other to drink heavy amounts of booze in a drinking game using Facebook videos - was implicated in recent deaths abroad.

New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said Kiwis needed to wake up and recognise the harm of a binge- drinking culture: "I really don't know what it's going to take for New Zealand to take this issue seriously and I think we're going to see many more deaths like this one happen."

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Wellington Hospital emergency medicine specialist Paul Quigley said most young people who wound up in hospital had been playing drinking games.

"It's a real problem, this 'rush, rush, rush' drinking. They are drinking so fast rather than taking it slow, enjoying their drink at a rate of one to two an hour, max."

- The Dominion Post

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