Crowds at Defqon 1 festival
Crowds at Defqon 1 festival

Young man took nine pills before fatal overdose

A YOUNG reveller took up to nine potent MDMA pills before he died a music festival, an inquest into five fatal drug overdoses in as many months has heard.

Diana Ngyuen, Joseph Pham, Callum Brosnan, Joshua Tam and Alexandra Ross-King all died at dance parties held between September and January in tragedies that have rocked the state.

 

Exactly what happened to them at the Defqon 1 event, the Knockout Games of Destiny, Lost Paradise, and FOMO festival will be examined as debate reignites over how to save young lives at raves.

But two additional deaths may also be put under the microscope, counsel assisting the coroner Peggy Dwyer told a directions hearing on Tuesday.

Ms Dwyer told the NSW Coroners Court that one partygoer took a single lethal MDMA tablet, while another young man died after taking between six and nine pills in one day.

"The pill consumed was MDMA that was 77 per cent pure - a very high rate of purity," she said.

The fatal overdoses of two young adults from similar dance parties in previous years may also be put in focus when the full hearing kicks off in the first half of this year.

"It is possible that there are two other deaths that may be heard in this inquest," Ms Dwyer said.

19-year-old Alex Ross-King, who died of a suspected drug overdose at the FOMO music festival.
19-year-old Alex Ross-King, who died of a suspected drug overdose at the FOMO music festival.

"It is clear that members of the public are extremely interested to learn why these young people have lost their lives."

None of the families of the five youngsters who died came to the packed out Glebe courtroom, while Lost Paradise organisers made no comment as they left.

Relatives are still waiting for the ­results of autopsies which can take several months to finalise but have been expedited.

"The grief that their loved ones are experiencing and will continue to experience is difficult to comprehend," Acting State Coroner Magistrate Teresa O'Sullivan said.

"I am truly sorry for their loss."

The probe hopes to investigate the availability of water, shade and rest areas at the venues, and the adequacy of medical services provided to allow the coroner to make any recommendations for prevention and public safety.

22-year-old Josh Tam died from a suspected overdose at the Lost Paradise music festival.
22-year-old Josh Tam died from a suspected overdose at the Lost Paradise music festival.

One young person mixed booze and MDMA, but others didn't drink at all and not everybody sought medical attention, the court heard.

Eyewitnesses, experts and festival organisers could be called to give evidence, while harm minimisation including controversial pill testing will also be on the agenda.

A further directions hearing will get underway on February 28 at the NSW Coroners Court in Lidcombe.

In the meantime, Ms O'Sullivan urged young people to learn MDMA poisoning symptoms - a fast heartbeat, high body temperature, confusion and vomiting - to seek help early and help prevent another "terrible loss".

"The hot weather in Australia is set to continue… there are more music and dance festivals planned," she said.

Callum Brosnan
Callum Brosnan

"We don't want to see any more deaths."

Joseph Pham suffered a fatal heart attack at the Defqon.1 festival on September 15 at the Sydney International Regatta Centre at Penrith, where Diana Nguyen also died of a suspected overdose.

Music student Callum Brosnan, 19, took drugs at the Knockout Games of Destiny at Sydney Olympic Park on December 9 before having a fit and dying at a nearby train station, police sources say.

Investigators suspect Brisbane footballer Joshua Tam, 22, took a fatal mix of ecstasy and booze at the Lost Paradise music festival near Gosford on December 29.

And 19-year-old Alexandra Ross-King died in hospital on January 12 of a suspected overdose after attending the FOMO music festival in Parramatta.

Facebook picture of 23 year old Joseph Pham (left), who died at the Defqon Festival.
Facebook picture of 23 year old Joseph Pham (left), who died at the Defqon Festival.

The NSW government has ruled out pill testing but earlier this month Opposition Leader Michael Daley said Labor would explore the possibility if it won the March election.

Besides the deaths, dozens of revellers collapsed and needed medical treatment and hundreds more were arrested for drug offences.

The unusual move in announcing the ­inquest so quickly has echoes of the public health warning issued in 2016 by then state coroner Michael Barnes about a deadly batch of pink-coloured heroin tainted with fentanyl. It was prompted by the overdose deaths of 13 drug users.



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