Man drowns best pal in fishing lake after “sudden outburst of violence” from smoking ‘Spice’ mixed with cannabis

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Man drowns best pal in fishing lake after “sudden outburst of violence” from smoking ‘Spice’ mixed with cannabis

A man drowned his best friend after suffering a “sudden and unexpected outbreak of violence” after smoking cannabis laced with legal high ‘Spice’.

Christopher Davies, 28, killed Barry O’Reilly, 37, after unknowingly taking the synthetic cannaboid on May 15 this year.

The work colleagues had gone fishing at a lake at Claremont Farm in Clatterbridge, Wirral, in Merseyside.

But after Mr O’Reilly gave Davies a pipe containing the “so-called legal high” and the Class B drug, he had an “extreme reaction”, reports the Liverpool ECHO .

Liverpool Crown Court heard they wrestled before Davies repeatedly punched the dad-of-one and held his head underwater.

Davies faced a murder trial but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of “loss of control” after claiming he had no idea he was smoking spice.

Liverpool Echo Angler killed in suspected fishing lake fight 'ended up in water'

Claremont Fishery, where the incident took place

Ian Unsworth, QC, prosecuting, said the pair worked together at door manufacturer Vista Panels in Birkenhead.

When a supervisor told them drug testing was being introduced, Mr O’Reilly admitted smoking cannabis and spice, which was found at his home after his death.

Davies confessed to using cannabis, but said he did not take spice “as he had heard it was bad”. None was recovered from his property.

Prosecutors accepted his manslaughter plea – a decision initially against the wishes of the victim’s family – because they could not prove Davies knowingly took spice.

Mr Unsworth said: “That is what has driven us to this painful decision for the family.”

Davies, of Town Lane, Higher Bebington, and Mr O’Reilly, who lived off Old Chester Road, in Birkenhead, went to the farm on Sunday, May 15 this year.

As they set up their kit including a tent at around 7am, everything seemed normal between them.

Angler Stephen Clarke heard shouting, then a loud splash and saw Mr O’Reilly standing waist high in the water, joined by Davies.

Witness Adrian Hagan saw the pair wrestle, then Davies grab his victim and start “leathering him”.

He told police one punch “made an almighty crack noise”, adding: “It hit him in the eye, it was that bad I almost felt it myself.”

Mr O’Reilly screamed: “You’re killing me, you’re killing me, get off” before Davies forced him under the water.

Mr Clarke shouted at him to stop and called police. Davies emerged at around 9.20am and said: “Did you see that mate? I nearly drowned.”

Liverpool Echo Angler killed in suspected fishing lake fight 'ended up in water'

He claimed he had no idea he was smoking the legal high

He added: “Call the police mate. Not being funny, am in a different world. Been given spice by my best mate. I think I’ve killed the man.”

Mr Hagan and Davies dragged Mr O’Reilly out of the water and tried to give him CPR.

Davies later told police he feared for his life and said: “He gave me spice, I was on my knees in the water and he was laughing at me, I hit him.”

He added: “It’s not murder, I was fighting for my life.”

Toxicologists found both men smoked cannabis and spice, but could not say when the drugs were taken.

Mr Unsworth said synthetic cannaboids like spice were “significantly more dangerous than natural cannabis”.

He said Davies’ behaviour ranged from being “euphoric” to “distress” and concern for his friend.

The killer later told police that when he smoked the pipe “he felt as though his brain was being sucked out of his head” and that Mr O’Reilly told him the pipe had a bit of “spizzle” in it.

Nigel Power, QC, defending, said Davies, who has one previous conviction for common assault, “deeply regretted” what happened.

He said his client, who lived with his girlfriend and her daughter, and has a child from a previous relationship, suffered the “sudden and dramatic” effects of spice.

The lawyer said the killer thought he was going to die when he took the drug and felt like he had a black vortex in his head.

He said Davies did not suggest Mr O’Reilly bore him any ill-will by giving him the drug and the case highlighted the perils of illegal drug use.

Ten days after the offence, it became illegal to produce or supply spice, but not to use it.

Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, adjourned sentencing until tomorrow and remanded Davies in custody.

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