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Leeds Festival “on probation” after coroner’s call to improve safety, drug death teen’s father said

The father of a teenager who died after taking drugs at Leeds Festival has said the event is “on probation”.

David Celino, 16, from Worsley, in Greater Manchester, died in hospital after taking MDMA he bought at the event in August 2022.

Following an inquest a coroner called on event organisers, police and the government to improve safety.

Gianpiero Celino told the BBC he would be “worrying” about those attending the festival, which gets underway later.

He said that although organisers Festival Republic had outlined new safety measures for this year’s event he believes they should have been put in place earlier, with two other drug-related deaths since 2016.

David Celino died after taking MDMA at Leeds Festival in 2022

“It really shouldn’t have taken David’s death to get this sort of reaction from the organisers,” he said.

“I dearly wish David hadn’t taken ecstasy, but there are lots of things that went wrong and he fell through many cracks.

“Perhaps if more had been done we might not have been in this position.

“Leeds Festival is on probation this year after what the coroner said.”

The inquest heard that an estimated 20% of those attending Leeds Festival, or around 19,000 people, are aged 16 and 17.

Mr Celino said the timing of the event, the day after GCSE results are released, and the fact under 18s cannot legally buy or bring in alcohol made them “an easy target” for drug dealers.

He also said he wanted to see to drug testing trialled at events like Leeds Festival and urged parents to talk to their children and their friends about the dangers of drugs.

“No one involved with this festival wants what happened to us to to happen again, it would be catastrophic,” he added.

Leeds Festival, which takes place from Friday to Sunday, marks a year since David’s death and Mr Celino said his family would be “worrying about whether anybody else will experience what we experienced”.

However, he added that the family now wanted to stop “examining how he died and try to remember him how he lived, the fantastic boy that he was”.

Speaking at the inquest Melvin Benn, the managing director of Festival Republic, said he did not believe unaccompanied 16 and 17-year-olds should be banned from the event before adding that this year’s event would have a much more visible security and help presence.

Senior Coroner Kevin McLoughlin said he would prepare a Prevention of Future Deaths report following the hearing but noted that “the organisations involved have clearly taken this seriously”.

(Source: BBC)

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