Tuesday September 17 2013
– A Melbourne man who died after a suspected drug overdose at Penrith’s Defqon 1 dance festival confessed to taking pills as hospital staff fought to save his life.
James Munro, 23, of Bayswater, died at Nepean Hospital about 10.30pm on Saturday after having fits and repeated episodes of cardiac arrest.
June Avanessian’s son, Andrew, was with Mr Munro at the festival and said her son did not realise Mr Munro had “taken so many pills”.
“I think he got them on the net,” Ms Avanessian said.
Police yesterday said a batch of slow-working drugs could have been circulating at the event, which resulted in a further 14 people in hospital with overdose-like symptoms.
“Some of the drugs that they may have taken over the weekend had an actual delayed effect,” Detective Acting Chief Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis said.
“That delayed effect may have caused them to think that this drug may not be working and to take another one and another one. In this particular young man, it proved fatal.”
Mr Munro was rushed to the site’s medical tent only about an hour after gates opened. He was taken to hospital just after 1pm.
Detective Superintendent Katsogiannis said it was unclear which drug Mr Munro had taken, or if it was similar to the other hospitalised partygoers. Analysis of various seized substances was continuing.
A number of partygoers linked the overdoses to pills stamped with a horse’s head.
“My sister and I were in the medic tent,” Katrina Plotnikov said. “We were advised by the nurse that someone was selling green pills and all these kids who took them ended up in the medical tent.”
When questioned about the overdoses, NSW Drug Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham said there appeared to be a “common theme” between them and the “horsehead logo”.
He said revellers may have taken pills they thought were ecstasy but which actually contained other dangerous substances, including one known as PMA, often sold as ecstasy despite having a stronger effect and taking longer to kick in. It has been linked to several drug-related deaths at UK music festivals this year.
Almost 48 hours after Mr Munro died, festival organiser Q-dance finally broke its silence with a spokesperson saying: “We are deeply saddened by the tragedy. Our sincere sympathies go to the man’s family and friends.
“We are doing everything possible to assist NSW Police in their inquiries.”
– Simon Black, Amy Dale & Tom Minnear