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Gemma s death a warning to others, says mother
Gemma Thoms, died after taking drugs at a Big Day Out concert.

Teenager Gemma Thoms, who died after taking three ecstasy tablets before the 2009 Big Day Out festival, was treated at the event's first aid post but later released after lying about her age, an inquest was told yesterday.

Coroner Dominic Mulligan is investigating the 17-year-old hairdressing apprentice's death in February 2009 and whether more steps are needed to make concerts safer.

Gemma had taken one tablet with her best friend at home before her mother drove her to the concert.

She took another two tablets outside the Claremont Showground after fearing she would be caught with the pills by police sniffer dogs.

She was later escorted to the first aid post appearing unwell but was released after a volunteer officer concluded she was all right and just a bit hot.

Mr Mulligan will examine if that was the right call, whether volunteer first aid officers were trained in recognising possible overdoses, if event organisers followed correct guidelines and if paid and qualified paramedics should work at such events.

Gemma's best friend Cassandra Southern told the inquest she understood Gemma bought five green ecstasy pills with hearts on them from a friend. She said they had never taken ecstasy that looked like that before. Ms Southern said she and Gemma, whom she described as "fun, bubbly and outgoing", occasionally used ecstasy and knew it was risky but did not think of the consequences.

A friend of Gemma's admitted that Gemma asked him for some ecstasy about a week before the festival, but denied providing it to her.

Ms Southern, who had taken two pills herself but had vomited during the day, said she and Gemma obtained 18 and over wristbands - no questions asked - which allowed them to buy alcohol.

She said Gemma had also tampered with the date of birth on her driver's licence. The inquest was told when Gemma was taken to the first aid post she told the volunteers she had taken one dexamphetamine tablet and was 18. Mr Mulligan said under ambulance guidelines if first aid officers had known Gemma was under 18 she should not have been allowed to return to the crowd.

"Minors often need to be protected from minors," he said.

Ms Southern said Gemma, whom she did not see drink water during the "very hot" day, was "more hyperactive than normal" but after getting off a ride she noticed her friend was stumbling, pale, clammy, her teeth were chattering and her lips had turned blue before she collapsed and started convulsing.

"She had never taken that amount of pills before," she said.

"Never once that day did she tell me she wasn't OK."

Gemma died the next day in hospital.

Outside court, Gemma's mother Peta Davies said she hoped the inquest would ensure future events were safer.

She said Gemma's case should be a tragic reminder to young people of the dangers of drug use and for parents to be open and honest with their children. "It will be a good thing to remember Gemma by, that everything has been done possible to make sure the future events are OK," she said.

"You don't have to use drugs to have a good time."

The Big Day Out is being held in Perth at the weekend.

The inquest continues.