Mutiny Festival deaths: Portsmouth council leader says large events postponed over fears of '˜more bad drugs'

LARGE events in Portsmouth are being postponed amid rife concerns the '˜bad batch' of class A drugs at Mutiny Festival last weekend could cause further casualties.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 31st May 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 10:34 am
Mutiny Festival last weekend
Mutiny Festival last weekend

Portsmouth City Council is taking no chances in avoiding a repeat of the tragic deaths of Tommy Cowan, 20, and Georgia Jones, 18, resulting in music event Live at the Bandstand being pulled this Saturday and Sunday. Undercover Skatepark has also decided not to go ahead to protect people’s safety.

It follows Mutiny organisers’ decision to cancel the second day of its festival to protect the welfare of people and as a mark of respect to Tommy and Georgia.

The promoters had warned revellers of dangerous substances being circulated following the pair being taken ill prior to them later dying in hospital.

Mutiny Festival last weekend

But with the deadly pills still thought to be in circulation, the council has decided to cancel Bandstand with fears over the toxic drugs.

Speaking to The News, leader of the council, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson admitted the authority had real concerns the lethal drugs were still in operation and could be offloaded to revellers.

Explaining the reasons for postponing Bandstand, he said: ‘We have fears there is likely to be more of the drugs that killed the people at Mutiny.

‘We had specific concerns with Bandstand having open access to people with no tickets where dealers could just walk in and sell drugs. It was also felt that with the type of music at this weekend’s event being similar to Mutiny there could be similar behaviour from those attending.

Georgia Jones and Tommy Cowan

‘We felt this could create a market which may open the gates to the batch that was used last weekend. It is a real worry. We have to be very careful as we don’t want a repeat of what happened.’

Asked how long the council would have to adopt this approach, Cllr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘Who knows how long we will have to act like this. The drugs are very dangerous and might find their way to other people so protecting people has to be our responsibility.’

Cllr Steve Pitt, Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: ‘Unfortunately we have decided not to go ahead with this weekend’s bandstand events. This was going to be the season’s big event on Castle Field and following the tragic events at Mutiny Festival it was felt we would have to put extra measures in place to safely manage it and this wasn’t practical at such short notice.

‘I am fully aware that this will be a huge disappointment to people, but hope they can understand the decision under the circumstances.’

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson

Plans for a replacement large-scale bandstand event are now under way for September 8.

Nick Courtney, Bandstand organiser, said: ‘We fully accept the decision to cancel the event after what happened at Mutiny.

‘I dare say it was a decision they didn’t take lightly. It’s a question of making sure everyone is safe.

‘The council has made this decision for the greater good. We will have a replacement event but it may not be the same line-up we had planned for this weekend.

‘I’m sure people will understand the reasons why this decision has been made.’

Jake Skinner, organiser of Undercover skatepark at Southsea Castle, said people’s safety has to come first.

‘It is heartbreaking what happened at Mutiny. People’s wellbeing needs to be a priority,’ he said.

‘We invested a lot of time and money into our event and were really looking forward to it but no one wants a repeat of what happened last weekend.

‘We will rearrange our event for a later date which we plan on making bigger and better when it goes ahead.’

Police have released a 21-year-old woman from Waterlooville and a 21-year-old man from Havant who were arrested on suspicion of supplying class A drugs following the deaths at Mutiny.

They remain under investigation.