David Celino inquest: Teenagers going to Leeds Festival given stark warning after boy's drug death
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Senior coroner for Leeds Kevin McLoughlin issued a direct appeal to festival-goers ahead of the 2023 event next week as he concluded the inquest into the death of David Celino, from Worsley, Greater Manchester.
This warning was reinforced by David’s parents, who said they wanted to appeal urgently to the families of youngsters attending the festival to prepare their children for the dangers.
Mr McLoughlin told Wakefield Coroner’s Court on Thursday that he believed the teenager took one-and-a-half tablets he and his friends bought from a dealer at the site who has never been identified.
He told the court: “David took about one-and-a-half tablet but this was enough to kill him. As a tribute to David I would hope that all young people attending the festival become aware of that fact and heed the lessons drawn from this painful tragedy.”
Mr McLoughlin repeated the words of David’s father Gianpiero, who told the inquest he believes “the ticket that signals the death of another young person has already been sold”.
The coroner said: “I hope that every young person attending the festival does not take the risk that they are the person holding that dreadful ticket.”
Following the death of 17-year-old Anya Buckley from a drugs-related death at the festival in 2019, the same coroner issued a report which urged organisers to think about whether unaccompanied 16 and 17-year-olds should be allowed into the event, which attracts 90,000 people every August.
But he heard how Festival Republic, which runs the event, and Leeds City Council, which licenses it, had decided against this move for a number of reasons after extensive consideration.
Speaking outside the court following the coroner’s narrative conclusion, Mr Celino said: “We don’t want to be here and we don’t want any other family to be standing where we are in the future.
“We want to use this opportunity, therefore, to get an urgent message to parents whose children will be attending Leeds and Reading Festivals next weekend – particularly those who are sending children under 18.
“Please take the time now to prepare your children and their friendship group for what they will experience at what might be their first festival. What to do if something goes wrong and how to get help.
“We missed our opportunity to do that and we do not want David’s story to be repeated.
"Whatever assurances have been given by the organisers, whatever measures have been put in place to keep the festival-goers safe, you cannot be sure that if your child becomes seriously unwell that someone will come forward to offer help. So preparing your child and their friends is critical.”
Flanked by his wife, Nicola, Mr Celino said the family was pleased that Festival Republic and its managing director Melvin Benn were “taking our concerns seriously” and implementing new measures in 2023 to support and safeguard vulnerable youngsters.
He said: “However, those efforts can only be considered effective if everyone, particularly the children attending, come home safely in 2023.”