Student who died on flight refused entry this year

Santos Gurjao who suffered cocaine poisoning tried to enter Ireland to study English

A 24-year-old Brazilian student who died from cocaine poisoning on board an Aer Lingus flight at the weekend was refused entry at Dublin Airport earlier this year.

John Kennedy Santos Gurjao had tried to enter Ireland in July to study English but was stopped by immigration police because he did not have enough money to support himself.

However, it is believed he later returned and entered Ireland to begin studying at a English language school in Dublin. He later returned home to Brazil for a period.

He was returning to Ireland to attend another English language course before his three-month visa expired on Sunday.


Mr Santos Gurjao was travelling from Lisbon to Dublin on Sunday afternoon on board Aer Lingus flight EI 485 when he took ill and became agitated about an hour into the flight.

He was restrained by cabin crew and in the process bit another passenger assisting crew.

Cabin crew had to restrain him with handcuffs before he started to convulse and he then collapsed into unconsciousness.


A doctor and two nurses performed CPR on him as the flight diverted to Cork Airport and HSE paramedics also worked on him on arrival but he was pronounced dead a short time later.

A postmortem on Monday at Cork University Hospital by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster confirmed that Mr Santos Gurjao had ingested up to 100 pellets which were subsequently found to have contained 0.8 kilos of cocaine with an estimated street value of €60,000.

At least one of the pellets burst inside him.

Gardaí have continued to liaise with the Brazilian embassy regarding the repatriation of Mr Santos Gurjao’s body back to his family in Boa Vista in northwestern Brazil.

Meanwhile gardaí on Tuesday released without charge a 44-year-old woman who had travelled on the same flight from Lisbon as Mr Santos Gurjao.

Woman arrested

The woman was arrested when gardaí searched her luggage at Cork Airport and found 1.8 kilos of a white powder in three plastic bags. The woman said it was baking powder.

The substance was sent to the Forensic Science Ireland laboratory at Garda headquarters for analysis which confirmed that it was a form of flour used in baking traditional Brazilian bread.

The woman, who was born in Angola but has a Portuguese passport and lives in Dublin, was brought to Togher Garda station in Cork where she was questioned about her relationship with Mr Santos Gurjao.

Detectives also carried out searches of her flat and business premises in Dublin where she provides services for Brazilian students who come to Ireland to learn English.

It is understood that the woman confirmed details obtained by gardaí that she had purchased the ticket for Mr Santos Gurjao on Aer Lingus flight EI 485 from Lisbon to Dublin.

Gardaí will now prepare a file on the matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions, a spokesman confirmed.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times