Coroner turns eyes to festival
Inside view: Coroner Dominic Mulligan at the festival. Picture: Lincoln Baker/ The West Australian

The coroner investigating the ecstasy overdose death of teenager Gemma Thoms at a Big Day Out event four years ago inspected facilities at the music festival yesterday.

Dominic Mulligan spent several hours at the Claremont Showground inspecting the Big Day Out command post, first-aid facilities and entry procedures.

He spoke to volunteers and stallholders as 35,000 patrons revelled to a string of rock acts.

Mr Mulligan and the small group with him also visited licensed and entertainment areas at the festival for an insight into how the event and its facilities were run.

The coroner visited the BDO before the inquiry's final witnesses are called today, including event organisers and an interstate paramedic who worked at the 2009 festival. St John Ambulance's resources at the BDO were significantly boosted yesterday compared with 2009 when Gemma, 17, collapsed and later died after taking three ecstasy pills.

Ambulance operations manager Phil Martin said four paramedics, four registered nurses and 36 first-aid volunteers were on hand and kept busy. By 5pm, they had treated about 250 people, most for dehydration and heat exhaustion.

Mr Martin said a few underage concert-goers had been drinking and required first-aid.

The inquest has been told Gemma, who entered the event as an adult with fake identification, lied to first-aid volunteers about her age and drug use.

A dual wristband scheme was used this year to better identify underage people.

Some festival-goers yesterday, such as 24-year-old Camille Earody and 28-year-old Brenton Hillson, said they believed the Big Day Out should be an event for 18-year-olds and over.

Police yesterday gave two juveniles cautions for possessing a prohibited drug.

Figures released yesterday afternoon revealed police also issued one infringement notice for drug possession and charged 25 people with possessing a prohibited drug.

One of those arrested was allegedly caught with cannabis and ecstasy.

Police also handed out five traffic infringements and 45 move-on notices. People caught with drugs were among those issued with move-on notices and were not allowed into the festival.

The West Australian

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