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[dupe] Elite Hacker Barnaby Jack 'overdosed on drugs' (bbc.co.uk)
52 points by f_salmon on Jan 4, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments

Heroine, cocaine _and_ a cocktail of other drugs?

And the guy is a top notch hacker about to embarrass some pretty powerful conglomerates?

Sorry but I don't care how many bottles of champagne were in the room trash bin. This has MURDER written all over.

For the curious, here is an interesting story which might, or might not, be relevant:


Heroin and cocaine is a somewhat common mixture once you're heavy into drugs despite it's dangerousness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speedball_(drug) It's the killer of lots of celebrities.

The other drugs found in his system were Xanax and Benadryl again fairly common for people to take/to have in their system.

Go read /r/drugs sometime a lot of those people regularly mix a ridiculous number of drugs.

It's similar to the death of John Belushi which was also from a mixture of heroin and cocaine known as a speedball:


sigh really?

mixing heroin and cocaine is called a speedball. One is an upper and the other a downer, much like a cigarette and coffee can be combined.

It is certainly not that uncommon for people to combine drugs. Unfortunately death is not uncommon either. River phoenix and John Belushi famously died of speedballs.

But I'm guessing you'll believe whatever you want.

This story reminded me a bit about the death of UK hacker Gareth Willams[0], who worked for the secret service.

[0]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Gareth_Williams

Not really beyond a) they both died and b) they both worked in the field of security. Any further comparison is a little contrived.

Gareth Williams was never a hacker - he was an academic mathematician who later became employed by GCHQ. Unlike Barnaby's death, neither alcohol or drugs played any part in his death.

The circumstances around William's passing is legitimately suspicious, however, given the 'ritualistic placing of sim cards' and the fact that no one has been able to prove it is possible to lock oneself in the sports holdal from the inside.

"Gym bag" was a suspicious death ("we've shown he couldn't have died in this way, but this is how he died", basically). Barnaby Jack really wasn't.

On top of all that, I did not anywhere that they tested his blood for the presence of drugs. The statement you are quoting started with "Symptoms of."

Yeah. That's sketchy and probably outside the parameters of a proper investigation.

You obviously haven't done drugs or been around drug users before.

The only people who think this is murder are clueless.

His physical symptoms indicated an accidental overdose of heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs. The report said Mr Jack's girlfriend had found him lying in bed unresponsive, with "multiple bottles of beer and champagne in the garbage can".

Mr Jack's death occurred shortly before he was due to demonstrate how heart implants could be hacked at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

This is an awful tragedy, but it seems hard to imagine that there was any foul play involved. They would've needed to subdue him and then make him ingest cocaine. Therefore they'd need to subdue him physically or chemically. Struggling for your life tends to show up on an autopsy, as does being subdued with chemicals.

It's not impossible, but the absence of evidence should lead us to accept the facts at face value.

RIP Barnaby Jack.

Not saying that there was foul play involved, but don't you think that if a "professional" was hired to kill him, he'd be more than aware of the various things left in the crime scene and on the body that could point to signs of foul play?

Also, this reminds me of an episode of House of Cards.

According to the coroner's report [1], both his girlfriend and his friend told the police he had a history if opiate and cocaine use.

[1] http://cdn2.sbnation.com/assets/3803095/barnaby_jack_autopsy...

<movie> Cocaine can be injected. As well as any other substance. Drive him unconscious somehow (someone could push him drunk enough and sneak into his room. Then using some anesthetic totally unconscious), inject a lethal dose of drugs, cocaine and heroin. Now get out of the room somehow, either from the door or jumping out of the window. </movie>

Ignoring the jumping out of the window part, seems quite plausible. Never trust girls that you meet at the pub, especially if they look interested in you and you are a computer guy.

> Never trust girls that you meet at the pub, especially if they look interested in you and you are a computer guy.

A recipe for an amazing life.

You're misreading it, it's actually a clever bit of self-deprecation that I'm going to steal the next time people are looking at me enviously.

Very similar to how people feel Curt Cobain was "murdered". Conspiracy people say the amount of heroin in his system would have rendered him unable to pull the trigger on the shotgun.

Also, your movie scenario has actually happened before:


"Cocaine can be injected. As well as any other substance"

Yes, because coroners can't check for shot marks

Oh wait they can and do check for any possible injection marks and their type

Yeah, so what? It was just to say that you don't have to force an unconscious man to "ingest" cocaine to cause an overdose. Come on.

Why couldn't he have been surreptitiously poisoned? Put even a small dose of heroin in his drink and he's not going to be putting up much resistance.

Hanlon's Razor applies:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

The combination of drugs is not new:


I like this one as a counter:

“The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken.”

-- Bertrand Russell

What are you talking about? Cheese is not a drug. As a heroin user, I can tell you that the APAP is only mixed in as to make black tar heroin snortable, as black tar is the only kind of heroin commonly found outside of the east coast.

Moreover, APAP is not mentioned in the article at all.

It's not impossible, but the absence of evidence should lead us to accept the facts at face value

What facts? Such as the girlfriend stating that he took drugs. Would you by any chance know the girlfriend's name and how long they had been together?

What kind of genuine girlfriend is so ready to confirm that her dead boyfriend took drugs, and apparently failed to discourage him from his alleged habit?

Doesn't his good name matter to her?

Where do people such as yourself come from anyway? Count me out of 'us'

Submitted once already (but not originally from the canonical URL of that news source), with lots of comments:


And this same story was submitted two other times in the last day or so. What's with the duplicate detector these days?

Having your (accidental, maybe stupid, very unfortunate) death picked apart like this has been, in front of lots of people who knew you, must be really bad. (well, I mean, you're dead, but knowing that this kind of thing might happen to you sucks while you're alive)

It can't be nice for the family.

It does remind me to leave a "i am dead" package with deletion instructions for some things and passwords for other things. A list of accounts that need to be shutdown or that people might want to download stuff from.

Back when I was much more likely to end up kidnapped or in a gun battle/IED and dead, I had all that stuff set up automatically (much easier since it was all on my own systems). (and went so far as to take down all web content beforehand, just to buy myself a few more hours after being kidnapped for JSOC pipe-hitting services to arrive). When I upgraded, I didn't transition it to the new systems.

It's a bit harder with web services to do it automatically, as they end up breaking the login process, adding 2fa, etc. frequently enough that unless you test the whole system frequently, it probably wouldn't actually work. I guess 99% of the value is from mail, twitter, and facebook, though.

Were the flaws he was going to demonstrate ever made public or fixed?

Did those close to him know/suspect drug use before his death? Just trying to gauge the plausibility of the accidental overdose theory.

According to the medical examiner's report[0], Jack's girlfriend and a friend told the investigators that he "would take opiates and use Xanax," and that he "would drink and occasionally use cocaine".

So the answer is yes.

[0] http://cdn2.sbnation.com/assets/3803095/barnaby_jack_autopsy...

Are there any other sources that he was a user other than her? I'm not trying to pull out my tin foil hat but if I had gone to all the trouble to fake an OD I'd pay the GF off (and/or threaten) as well to say he had done it before.

The fact that none of his friends have come out against the claim is probably a good one. No one is going to go speak to the press or police about their friend and say "Ya he had drug issues" unless they have to. But a lot of people will go out and say it's wrong when it is.

JFC, have you never been to a hacker con? Drinking and drug use is not exactly rare.

No, I have never been to one before. I was just asking a question, sorry if it was a stupid one.

We can't prove that he wasn't killed by space aliens. On the other hand, the explanation is on its face quite plausible, and the level of evidence which would need to have been fabricated to support another theory is far beyond the plausible benefit to anyone in misleading the public as to his cause of death.

Drug and alcohol use, even to "dangerous" levels, is probably 20-30% of the high-profile people in the hacker scene (or, really, people in the tech scene in SFBA in general), at the very least. If Barnaby were a known teetotaler, one of the hundreds of people who knew him pretty well would have stepped forward. Given that they haven't, you can assess with high confidence that this is what it looks like, rather than a grand conspiracy.

So the ME tested for the presence of these in his blood?

Don't know if he travels a lot, but that's generally when people get overdoses. So much tolerance is psychological - a person readies their drugs with the same ritual in the same room - that their body doesn't have the same tolerance when it's taken another way. I think foul play

Tolerance isn't psychological. People may be using drugs of unknown strength or may be preparing them in different ways but they don't have heart attacks from psychological tolerance.

I agree that suspicion of foul play is premature. Hope he gets a good autopsy.

> Tolerance isn't psychological.

Are you just speculating?

I haven't really studied psychology but have an interest in it. My understanding is that in a familiar setting the body starts compensating before the drugs are ingested.

From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1384078

> These rituals produced drug-opposite physiological responses which resulted in an attenuation of the effects of the drug. Thus, tolerance was observed when the subjects injected the opiate, but not when the same dose was received by un-signaled intravenous infusion. These results are consistent with a conditioning explanation for the observed drug tolerance.

...is a little premature. (Phone fingers)

Afterall the "drug abuse" execution style is really used from time to time and not only a Hollywood invention. Curious to see what he was working on lately. I guess we'll never know. Being a hacker these days is a dangerous job.

Guess death by overdose beats death by umbrella.

Who takes heroin and cocaine and "other drugs" and then goes to lie in bed?

Once when I used magic mushrooms, I went into a bad trip and to deal with the bad trip, I lied on the bed, facing the wall.

I faced the wall, cause the hairs on my arms appeared to me like ants walking on me and I also didn't want to look my friends' faces, caused their faces looked very pale, which scared me a little.


The other drugs were Xanax and an allergy medicine(benadryl). So they were likely already in his system when he decided on the speedball.

Heroin and cocaine is a fairly common combination, and diphenhydramine is sometimes used to potentiate opiates (such as heroin). I've also seen Xanax be 'recommended' to handle the comedown from cocaine.

It doesn't seem like a particularly unlikely mix of drugs TBH.

You gotta come down sometime.

RIP Jack! Anyways, I Posted the news some 20 hours ago. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7007589 Hacker News works in mysterious ways. Or is it 'right place, right time' bull$h!t !

Yeah. I'll bet he did.

Not at all suspicious.

Move along lads... nothing to see here >_>

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