A taxi driver from Haringey was killed last year after unwittingly drinking a deadly mixture of rum laced with cocaine, a Croydon court has heard.
Lascell Malcolm, 63, died in May last year after consuming the adulterated drink, described as ‘a mixture of such toxicity that a teaspoonful could kill anyone who consumed it.’ It had been given to him by a friend who was unaware of the contents.
Malcolm drank a shot of the Bounty rum alongside a pint of Guinness on 25 May, only hours after receiving the bottle.
At 4am the following day, he called emergency services, complaining that he could not walk, had a headache and thought he was dying.
He was admitted and later discharged from hospital, but collapsed and died soon after, having suffered a heart attack through cocaine poisoning.
Father-of-two Malcolm’s death was the tragic culmination of a chain of coincidences after the 246g dose of cocaine was dissolved in the alcohol in a bid to smuggle it into the country on a flight to Gatwick.
Martin Newman, 50, the alleged smuggler, was the only person who would have been aware of the bottle’s secret contents, which had a potential street value of £15,000. He is appearing at Croydon Crown Court, charged with manslaughter and importing Class A drugs.
The court heard that Newman had given two bottles of the drink to an acquaintance, Michael Lawrence, at an airport in St Lucia, claiming that his own baggage was too heavy.
The two then flew to the UK, where Lawrence planned to return the items. However, Newman was detained by customs officers and Lawrence instead gave the rum to another friend, Antoinette Corlis.
Finally, Corlis gave the rum to Malcolm as a favour for giving her a lift home.
Prosecuting lawyer Oliver Glasgow said: “Corlis, unaware of the dangers posed by the defendant’s bottle of rum, decided to give it to Lascell Malcolm as a thank you for his trouble. It was gratefully received.”
“Corlis was only to realise the full import of what she had done when she tried to contact Lascell Malcolm over the following days.”
The exact cause of Malcolm’s death was discovered when two friends visiting his house to pay respects found the rum and decided to make a toast. The two spat out the liquid, but were hospitalised, suffering seizures.
“Whilst this could never have been the intention of the defendant, the risk [Newman] ran in importing cocaine in such a manner would have been obvious – once the bottle was passed into the hands of someone who knew nothing of its true contents there was the very real danger that anyone could chose to drink it,” Glasgow added.
Newman denies the charges. The trial will last for two weeks.