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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul Healy

Greek police probe possibility drinks were spiked before the tragic deaths of two Irish students

Police on the Greek island of Ios say they are not ruling out the possibility that drinks were spiked before the deaths of two Irish Leaving Cert students.

Popular Dublin students Andrew O’Donnell, 18, and Max Wall, 18, were marking the end of their Leaving Certificate exams with around 90 of their classmates on the island of Ios when they both died in separate tragic incidents over the weekend.

Andrew was discovered dead after appearing to fall off a cliff while Max was discovered unresponsive in the port area on Sunday.

READ MORE: Students form guard of honour as bodies of their two friends leave Greek island where they died on holiday

Now police on the island say they cannot rule out the possibility that drinks were spiked - but they say that no evidence of criminality has been discovered yet, and that the post-mortem examinations of both men will ultimately determine the course of the investigation.

Speaking to the Irish Mirror, Brigadier Thanos Loukas, head of the regional police department, said a full-scale inquiry was under way.

“We have no reason to believe that any criminality is involved but at this stage we are not ruling out anything,” he said.

Asked if police officers were investigating the possibility of the students being served spiked drinks, he added: “Everything is being looked at, including that. The autopsies and toxicology tests will tell us all. It won’t be long before we have the results once both post-mortems are conducted on Wednesday.”

Loukas, who as chief commanding officer has oversight of the entire southern Aegean, said Irish police officers had also arrived on Ios on Monday in “a supportive role.”

“The island is very popular with young Irish tourists and our colleagues have come in a supportive role. During the summer months, the police presence on the island is reinforced. In the past there have been problems with public order and drugs.”

Police spokesperson Konstantina Dimoglidou said that the post-mortem examinations, which are due to take place on Wednesday in Athens, will determine the course of the investigation.

“Hellenic police are investigating the causes of death for what answers the forensic examination of both will give,” she told us. “We have to wait for the conduction of the post-mortem and their exact results in order to verify the causes of death.”

In a statement, gardai said that two officers have been sent to Ios to assist in the Greek police investigation. “An Garda Sióchána is aware of the death of two Irish citizens in separate circumstances on the Greek island of Ios.

Flowers outside St, Michael's College in Dublin, Ireland, after the deaths of two recent graduates on the Greek island of Ios (PA)

“Two members of An Garda Síochána have travelled to Ios to provide assistance with the ongoing investigations and with the repatriation of both men,” a garda spokesperson said. “As this is an investigation led by Greek authorities, An Garda Sióchána has no further comment at this time.”

Emotional scenes unfolded as grieving friends and relatives stood in silence to witness the last journey home of the two Irish teenagers.

As coffins bearing the bodies of Andrew and Max were removed from the island’s health centre, as many as 500 Irish youngsters lined the route all the way down to Pireaus-bound ferry in the port.

“No one moved until the ferry disappeared over the horizon,” said one eyewitness describing how classmates at St Michael’s College formed an impromptu guard of honour as the caskets of their fellow pupils were transferred onto the vessel. "You could have heard a pin drop.”

In the wake of the double deaths bars have stayed closed as a mark “of respect and solidarity” for the families now forced to deal with the devastating loss of the two Dublin students.

On Tuesday, flowers were placed beneath a cactus tree on the spot where Andrew’s body was found early on Sunday. A bouquet was also to be seen on the side street where Max, who reportedly had a history of heart problems, lost consciousness and collapsed in a state of shock when he heard of Andrew's death.

Flowers outside St, Michael's College in Dublin (PA)

“He had passed by our shop three or four times that night asking if we had any news of his friend,” Antonis Mettos, who owns Yummy’s, a fast food joint in Hora, the island’s clifftop town said.

“It seems they had got lost and he [Max] was very worried. They were good kids. Everyone in Ios is in mourning right now. We are a little community in shock.”

Relatives who had travelled to Ios upon being informed of the tragedy escorted the coffins to Piraeus. The remains of both boys will be repatriated once the autopsies are wrapped up this week.

A local also among the hundreds present at Tuesday’s send-off described the scenes as heart-wrenching. “All these kids lined up, heads bowed, to say goodbye on what should have been a wonderful [school leaving] trip,” she said. “It was a sight to behold and never forget.”

Meanwhile, a service was held in memory of both boys at their local school, St Michael’s in Ballsbridge. Among those at the service were past pupils who had helped search for Andrew after he went missing.

Tim Kelleher, principal of the school, addressed the service saying: “Sixty boys from St Michael’s wanted to stay, wanted to be there, wanted to stand in solidarity. It’s a mark of those men and mark of all the boys that were there searching – some of whom who are here today – who went out searching for Andrew.

“We’re so thankful to you,” he said. “Our hearts go out to you and the pain you’re suffering.”

Mr Kelleher said he had been in touch with the heartbroken parents. They are making the most heart-breaking journey that any of us as parents or relatives will ever make.

“I know as a parent, I can imagine if you got a call, like the call that was made to those two families last Sunday, how gut-wrenching it was,” Mr Kelleher said. “Our hearts and souls go out to you all,” he said.

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