A young man who took up to nine MDMA capsules at a Sydney music festival told his friend before he died “he was just going to keep a strong mind and push through it”, an inquest has heard.
Callum Brosnan, 19, became unresponsive at Olympic Park train station after attending the Knockout Games of Destiny electronic dance music event in December 2018.
He died in hospital within hours as a result of MDMA and cocaine toxicity.
Brosnan, a passionate musician and who also played AFL, took between six-and-a-half and nine capsules at the event, detective inspector Karl Reis told the inquest on Tuesday.
The police officer said one capsule later found in the teenager’s bumbag was tested and contained MDMA at a high purity of 77%.
Brosnan’s friend, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, on Tuesday testified they had bumped into each other about 5pm and spent most of the event together.
He understood Brosnan to previously ingest MDMA once or twice a month, adding that on “most occasions” those in their peer group took multiple capsules.
He said the 19-year-old seemed “fine” and was dancing, singing along and performing shows for other patrons with his light-up gloves.
“We believe that he could’ve got more pills for doing these shows for people but that’s not something we can confirm,” the friend told the NSW coroners court.
But he said by about 11.30pm Brosnan was “standing there, staring at the stage, looking blank”.
“I asked if he needed a break or some water and he said no.”
Brosnan then made the comment about just pushing through.
Deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame asked: “What was that saying to you?”
“He thought he’d be all right, he thought he’d get through it just by staying calm,” the young man replied.
He said Brosnan stumbled on the way to the station and was found talking “to some random people” who could not understand him.
The friend told the coroner if he could speak to his younger self he would have made Brosnan get medical help, fresh air outside or some rest.
“Whatever could have helped.”
Cornelius Brosnan previously told the inquest his “forever loyal son” always put his friends’ needs before his own.
“He was a remarkable young man and through his courage and buoyant personality … taught us many things about life that without him we would be none the wiser,” he said.
Brosnan was caring for young people with autism at a house in Oatlands in the year before he died.
The coroner told his family: “I think everyone is feeling and acknowledges that terrible pain”.
Earlier on Tuesday, a Sydney-based GP earlier testified that the presence of police drug dogs at festivals could lead to unintended consequences such as panic consumption, internal concealment, bingeing beforehand and buying drugs from unknown sources inside the gates.
“They naturally will be worried that if they seek help, they’re going to get into trouble,” Dr Hester Wilson said. “That’s one of the dynamics with the large police presence with dogs … It’s a deterrent.”
Wilson said she supported drug safety checking because the evidence showed a punitive approach – to just say no – did not work.
Grahame is examining the drug-related deaths of six young people at NSW music festivals between December 2017 and January 2019.
Nathan Tran, Diana Nguyen, Joseph Pham, Joshua Tam and Alexandra Ross-King also died from MDMA toxicity or complications of MDMA use. They were aged between 18 and 23.
Wilson noted that while there was a difference between recreational drug takers and addicts, safety checking via medically supervised injecting rooms had helped users create trusting relationships with medical professionals.