Poppy death a warning: Tasmanian coroner

  • 02/19/2019

The death of a Danish backpacker after he drank opium poppy tea should serve as a warning to others about the dangers of illegal and unpredictable substances, a Tasmanian coroner says.


Jonas Pedersen, from Esbjerg in Denmark, came to Australia for a working holiday in December 2013 and died just three months later on his 26th birthday.

Mr Pederson died after taking poppy heads from opium poppy plantations around Tasmania during a trip in February last year and brewing them into a tea.

Coroner Olivia McTaggart on Thursday ruled Mr Pedersen died from accidental morphine intoxication as a result of drinking the tea.

While she believed he would likely have understood the warning signs it was unclear if he would have known about the differing strengths or types of poppies.

His travelling companion, German backpacker Pablo Kaiser, said Mr Pederson had made the tea several times in their two week trip and “brushed off the inference of `danger’ as if it were of no consequence to him”, Ms McTaggart said.

He was unwell on February 16 and told Mr Kaiser he had likely had too much of the tea.

Mr Kaiser found Mr Pedersen dead the following morning.

“His death at a young age is a tragic outcome of his own action,” Ms Taggart said.

She said there had been other deaths in Tasmania involving young people illegally entering opium poppy plantations and extracting substances containing morphine.

“This activity is both illegal and dangerous,” she said.

“The death of Mr Pedersen demonstrates the danger and serves as a warning against engaging in this activity.”


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