Heroin, also known as diamorphine, is an opiate drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. It can be injected, snorted/sniffed, or smoked, all of which rapidly deliver the drug to the brain. Once in the brain it is converted to morphine and binds to receptors known as opioid receptors - primarily those involved in the perception of pain and in reward - often resulting in addiction.
Mix of cocaine, heroin and alcohol killed businessman, autopsy shows
A mix of hard drugs and alcohol killed one of two American businessmen found dead in a Grand Hyatt Hotel room last October, according to an autopsy report submitted to the inquest into their deaths yesterday.
The report on Paul Cherry, 45, said he died from an overdose of cocaine and heroin that might have been made more lethal by a high intake of alcohol. A report on Cherry's uncle, Richard Victore, 51 - found dead with him in room 2408 at the Wan Chai hotel on the afternoon of October 26 last year - will be read to the court today.
Government chemist Tam Wai-ming told the coroner's court yesterday he estimated the pair had consumed a 'medium to great quantity' of heroin and cocaine, indicated by a corresponding level of morphine found in their bodies.
Tests on their stomach contents and nasal swabs indicated they had snorted and swallowed the drugs at least half an hour before they died, Dr Tam said.
Witnesses earlier told the court the pair had spent their final hours at the Lockhart Road entertainment district patronising two bars, one of which they left with a Filipino dancer.
A forensic scientist who processed the crime scene told the court the most suspicious items in the hotel room were a torn square black plastic wrapper found on the coffee table and many wet towels heavily stained with vomit found scattered around the room. Chung Wai-wah said he suspected the plastic sheet might have contained illegal drugs and that the wet towels could have been used to conceal powder stains.
Dried-out residue of a pale liquid was found around the mouths of the two men, Dr Chung said.
The autopsy report said the stains indicated Cherry had fallen unconscious before he died and noted that drug overdose victims tended to vomit.
Three wine glasses were found in the room and a used contraceptive sponge was in a rubbish bin in the toilet, Dr Chung said.
But he did not find an envelope with HK$10,000, which the court heard earlier was delivered to the room at 10.30am on the day of the deaths.
The first police officer to attend the scene also said he could not find the envelope in the room, which showed no signs of having been ransacked, the court heard.
Police found the last call to the hotel room was at 9.15am from Cherry's friend Michael McIntyre, who said a young woman answered his call and asked him to call back in 30 minutes.
The inquest continues today.