A CORONER has issued a stern warning to festival-goers urging them not to put their lives in the hands of heartless drug dealers after the death of two young people at Mutiny Festival.
David Horsley said there was a dangerous ‘drugs culture’ surrounding festivals, one he felt more and more young people were falling victim to.
He made his comments at the end of a two-day inquest into the death Tommy Cowan.
The 20-year-old, of Havant, died after taking two double-strength ecstasy pills at Mutiny Festival, in Cosham, on May 26.
Tommy, who had a one-year-old son at the time, was the second person to die at the dance event, with Georgia Jones, 18, also of Havant, losing her life after taking two of the same ‘Silver Audi’ pills.
Speaking at the end of the inquest at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court, Mr Horsley said: ‘Tommy had been through his wild times but he was beginning to mature and settle down.
‘Sadly he went to the festival and succumbed to temptation. He wasn’t a drug addict but it was something he did, as Georgia did, as part of the festival.’
He added: ‘Taking illicit substances is like Russian roulette. And in this case, when Tommy did take a chance all the chambers of the gun were loaded against him.’
Tommy’s partner, Jodie Brain, and his mother, Brook Hoar, embraced and wept as the Mr Horsley described the death of their loved one a ‘tragic’.
He added when people take pills, they have no idea what deadly chemicals have been pumped into them or how strong they were.
And he used his speech to slate drugs gangs for their role in producing and selling the narcotics.
Mr Horsley said: ‘It is amazing people put their faith in drug dealers.
‘These dealers aren’t interested in the welfare of their customers. All they want to do is rake money in.
‘The problem is when you’re young, you tend to think you’re immortal – it’s not going to happen to you, it’s always going to happen to somebody else.
‘In the case of poor Tommy and Georgia, earlier, that proves it’s not the case – it’s going to be you.’
The court heard Tommy had admitted to friends to taking two pills, back to back, during the festival.
Hours later the young dad was spotted ‘stumbling’ across the festival ground before he collapsed.
Mutiny’s on-site team of doctors battled to save him, as he suffered two seizures and his body temperature and heart rate rocketed to dangerous levels.
Dr Michael Kiuber, lead clinician with Mutiny’s on-site medical team, said staff fought to cool Tommy and give him oxygen as he fitted.
But he said: ‘He was entirely unresponsive. His pupils were fixed and dilated.’
Tommy was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in a critical condition, arriving at 8.46pm.
His temperature at its highest was 41.2 degrees – something medical experts said was life-threatening.
Tommy’s heart stopped on several occasions as his organs began to fail.
Dr Eliot Wilkinson, a consultant at QA, said: ‘It was clear Tommy was suffering with the toxic effects of recreational drugs. But it wasn’t known what he had taken.’
Forensic pathologist Dr Brett Lockyear said tests showed Tommy had a ‘high level’ of MDMA in his blood, but also showed signs of an allergic reaction, possibly to a substance the drug had been mixed with.
He added Tommy's body had showed signs of serious trauma, from a swollen brain and bleeding on the heart and lungs, the muscle breakdown and kidney damage.
‘Had Tommy survived in hospital he would not have been the same person he was before,’ Dr Wilkinson told the court as Tommy’s family sobbed.
Mr Horsley concluded Tommy’s death was accidental and that he had died from MDMA intoxication.
Speaking to the family, he added: ‘It’s such a waste of life and to think that a small child has lost his father because of this I wish I could reverse all of this for you but it’s beyond me.’