Inquests Hear How Men Took Ivory Wave

The mother of a man who died after taking the so-called legal high drug Ivory Wave has said that the Government's failure to ban it was an ''insult to her son's memory''.

An inquest's heard that Michael Bishton showed ''bizarre and paranoid'' behaviour in the days before he died.

The 24-year-old chef, from Ryde on the Isle of Wight, was seen running along the edge of a cliff at Culver Down with his arms outstretched on the morning of August 13 last year.

The next day a local fisherman found Mr Bishton's body in the sea, the inquest at Newport was told.

A few days earlier Mr Bishton's partner, Sammy Betts, called the police after he started running around the house with a knife because of paranoid delusions.

PC Samuel Burrows, who attended the incident in the house, said Mr Bishton was ''agitated and sketchy and couldn't stand still''.

He added: ''He stated he had awoken and heard noises that sounded like people in the house. He had seen and heard these people and wanted to scare them off, so he picked up a knife in order to scare them.''

Mr Bishton was taken voluntarily to the mental health unit of St Mary's Hospital in Newport where he was advised he had had a psychotic reaction to the Ivory Wave drug, as well as to alcohol and mephedrone.

He told doctors he had been taking the drugs to cope with stress from his work and difficulties in his relationship with Ms Betts. He was allowed home but was advised to stop taking the drug.

The inquest heard that Mr Bishton had experienced depression in 2008 but that this was thought to have been brought on by a combination of cannabis and alcohol.

Tamsin Owen, Mr Bishton's mother, said his behaviour had been ''bizarre'', ''like a wild animal'' and ''out of character''. She described it as a ''self-induced madness''.

She said her son told her he had bought Ivory Wave for £15 a packet from the Spaced Inc shop in Ryde, as well as another legal high called NRG-1.

The inquest heard that Mr Bishton's body was winched from the sea by a coastguard helicopter. A post-mortem examination showed that he died of a brain injury and toxicology results showed only small amounts of alcohol and desoxypipradrol, the active ingredient of Ivory Wave.

Recording an open verdict, Isle of Wight Coroner John Matthews said: ''The ingestion of this legal high may have been a very strong contributory factor to the behaviour which was out of character.''

He would write to the local MP Andrew Turner asking whether Ivory Wave should be banned and also pass on the inquest's findings to the University of London which is researching the drug.

Speaking outside the coroner's court, Ms Owen said:

''Just because it has legal on the front of it and you can go to the shop and buy it doesn't mean that it will be safe. Please do not do it.

''More studies should be done before anything is allowed in the shops. How can you just go and buy these things that do these things to families?

''It's an insult to the memory of my son.''

The inquest heard that Ms Betts found out on the day Mr Bishton went missing that she was pregnant with their second child, a girl called Michaela, now four weeks old, but had not yet told him.

Ms Betts said last year after her partner's death that he had been ''a great dad'' to their other daughter, Alesha, who will be two next month.

Ms Betts added that she wanted to warn people of the dangers of taking Ivory Wave.

She said: ''They should get rid of it, I don't want it to happen to someone else.''

Acting Detective Inspector Gary Lyons, of Hampshire police, said after the hearing:

''I would like to take this opportunity to remind people on the Isle of Wight about the potential risks from using 'legal high' drugs.

''Some people wrongly assume these substances are harmless: Legal does not mean safe.

''Government advice says the contents of many legal highs have never been used as drugs before. They have had no tests to show they are safe.

''Government advice also warns that people will increase their risk of death if they combine drugs or alcohol with any substance that causes a 'high'.

''Often people have no idea what they're actually taking because the substance is not labelled and there is no historical data available through research because 'legal highs' are relatively new.

''Some of the side effects of these so called 'legal highs' can be extremely severe.

''Long-term drug addicts have told us that they have become psychotic, aggressive and hyperactive after abusing these 'legal' substances.''

The shop where Mr Bishton bought the Ivory Wave, Spaced Inc in Ryde and its sister shop in Newport, were raided by police just days after his death.

Two men were arrested but later released with no further action to be taken.

Ivory Wave is sold legally for about £15 a packet and is advertised as relaxing bath salts.

But the product has become popular as a legal alternative to illicit drugs.

Last November, the Home Office banned imports of the active ingredient of Ivory Wave, 2-DPMP, following advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

The compound 2-DPMP is closely related to Ritalin and was initially developed as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy and has been described as a ''masked amphetamine''.

The ACMD advice followed several reports of Ivory Wave users suffering symptoms of ''severe agitation and psychosis'' leading to some having to be restrained and sedated.

Professor Les Iversen, ACMD chairman, said: ''This is not a nice party drug - it's really quite dangerous.''

A second inquest in Newport heard that another man who took Ivory Wave, Guy Ebsworth, died within days of Mr Bishton.

The body of the 33 year old was found on August 13 last year inside a small locker on a yacht in Odessa boatyard in Newport. He had been employed to help renovate the yacht by family friend Richard Coles.

Mr Ebsworth was last seen on August 6 heading to a fireworks display at the Cowes Week yachting event, the inquest was told. He did not turn up to go sailing with his uncle the next day.

When Mr Coles inspected his yacht, called Adventurous, on August 9 he found Mr Ebsworth's clothes hanging up and all of the boat's portholes covered by paper. A bottle of de-ionised water had apparently been drunk from and the mast hole was stuffed with overalls. An opened packet of Ivory Wave was also found.

The same day, Mr Ebsworth's parents, who lived on a nearby houseboat, had reported their son missing to police. But it was not until August 13 that police searched the yacht in detail and found the naked body of Mr Ebsworth inside the 5ft by 2ft under-bunk locker. His legs were pulled up into the foetal position and Mr Ebsworth had been clutching a sail cover, the inquest heard.

A post-mortem examination of the body found traces of desoxypipradrol, the active ingredient of Ivory Wave.

But the inquest was told that because so few deaths have been linked to the substance it was not known if the amount in his body could have killed him, meaning the cause of death was not established.

John Matthews, coroner for the Isle of Wight, returned an open verdict and said he believed Mr Ebsworth had been experiencing paranoid delusions, causing him to hide in the tiny locker and to attempting to block out light from the yacht.

He said: ''This shows all the aspects of someone feeling they were being pursued.''

Mr Matthews added: ''It's a great shame his life has been cut off at such a young age.''

He said the case will be referred to the University of London and to the local MP, in relation to the legality of Ivory Wave.

Mr Ebsworth's father Tim told the inquest: ''It was quite a shock. These drugs just feel completely out of context with Guy. I had never heard of Ivory Wave.''

Mr Ebsworth grew up on the Isle of Wight but had moved to London to run a picture-framing firm. He moved back to the island when his long-term relationship ended and his business had folded.

His father said his son had been depressed but was more upbeat recently.