Opera singer's career ruined 'by barmaid who spiked drink with cleaning fluid'

An opera singer who claims his throat was burnt after a barmaid spiked his drink has said he ‘thought he was going to die’.

Alan Costigan, 42, said he had just finished a singing lesson with the pub landlady when the barmaid offered him a drink and told him to ‘drink it down in one’.

He said he started to spit up blood soon after and suffered chemical burns to his mouth, throat, gullet and stomach at the Echo Pub in Gravesend, Kent.

Alan said: ‘It immediately burnt my throat and I could hear her laughing behind the counter and said it was beer line cleaner.

‘I said “what have you given me that for?”

‘I immediately got a large glass of water and drank a lot but it wasn’t stopping the burning.

‘When it went down it was like the hottest thing you could imagine in your throat. It was like I had been drinking molten lava.’

He said the pain was ‘excruciating’ and he struggled to breathe properly.

Alan said: ‘I was coughing up a lot of blood. I was in shock and I thought I was going to die.’

When he called 111, they sent an emergency ambulance to get him to a poison specialist as soon as possible.

A police spokesman said a woman was arrested in connection with the incident but released as there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

The pub’s insurers have admitted The Echo was ‘in breach of duty’ and liable for the ‘accident’ on December, 2017.

A spokesman for the pub said the toxic substance had been made ‘available to the public in error’.

They added: ‘The allegations have been vehemently denied other than one element, which was that a substance was made available to the public in error.

‘The barmaid denied that anything was done as a prank – she didn’t say he should drink it. She wasn’t aware that he had drunk it until afterwards.’

Alan said the incident has ‘destroyed his career’ and added: ‘I will never be the same again after what happened to me.

‘This has ruined my life.

‘I have gone from being able to sing on a stage in front of lots of people to not even being able to go out of the house.

‘I’m a recluse, suffer from depression, and have had panic attacks.

‘Even if I was able to sing I don’t know if I will ever be well enough to perform again.’

Alan has since instructed a lawyer to take action against the pub, where he used to work.

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