United Kingdom

Autistic man, Damien Terry, nearly dies after drinking Coke bottle mixed with toxic weedkillers

A young autistic man was told he had just hours to live after drinking a bottle of Coke that contained a mix of highly toxic weedkillers.

Damien Terry, 24, had been at the Mangrove Mountain sports oval on New South Wales' Central Coast one morning in 2017 when he spotted the soft drink in a public disabled toilet.

Mr Terry, who requires full time care and is non-verbal, then drank the liquid which had been mixed with the toxic chemicals paraquat and diquat.

The 24-year-old then spent nearly three weeks in hospital including one week in the ICU, before making a miraculous recovery. 

On Friday, volunteer groundskeeper, Wayne McInnes, who was responsible for leaving the bottle in the toilet was fined $48,000 by the NSW Land and Environment Court.

Damien Terry spent nearly three weeks in hospital after drinking from a Coke bottle that had toxic weedkillers inside (stock image)

Mr Terry's mother, Julie, said her son had a habit of drinking other peoples' drinks and Coca Cola was his favourite. 

'If the family had visitors, they had to 'guard' their drinks as Mr Terry was prone to drink them if they had Coke in them,' Ms Terry's statement in court said.

'He is incapable of understanding the danger of drinking something that is not provided for him and would not have been able to resist drinking one of his favourite drinks.'

After returning from the sports oval, Mr Terry started throwing up green vomit and he was rushed to hospital.

As the vomiting started to ease, the medical staff said he'd likely eaten a non-toxic chemical and he was sent home.

But his condition worsened later on in the day and his parents decided to take him back to hospital.

It was then that a doctor confirmed what Mr Terry had ingested was lethal. 

'People don't survive from ingesting it. It takes 10-14ml to kill an adult,' the doctor said, as heard in the court.

The bottle had contained the highly toxic weedkillers diquat (pictured) and paraquat 

His family were told it was likely their son had just hours to live and he was placed in the ICU, where two days later his kidneys started to fail.

Due to the severe chemical burn, Mr Terry's skin 'came away upon contact with a towel'.

'During this period Mr Terry continued to experience high levels of pain. He was becoming erratic and agitated each day, becoming aggressive with family members,' court documents said.

Mr Terry was finally discharged from hospital on August 28, 18 days after being admitted, and was made to take a total of 35 tablets a day to help him recover.

On Friday, Mr McInnes apologised profusely to Mr Terry and his family.

'I understand that it has impacted severely on everyone’s life and it should not have happened,' he said.

'The experience has also left me devastated. While I believe everyone involved made mistakes, mine was not disposing of the Coke bottle with the pesticide in it immediately and I have been kicking myself the last three years.'

Mr McInnes has since resigned from his role as the groundskeeper.

Mr Terry continues to suffer epileptic seizures and his family worry about his long-term health following the horrific incident.

The autistic man had been at the Mangrove Mountain sports oval (pictured) on New South Wales' Central Coast one morning in 2017 when he spotted the soft drink in a public disabled toilet

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