Coroner investigates Big Day Out overdose
Gemma Geraldine Thoms was described by her best friend as a "fun, bubbly and outgoing" 17-year-old who dreamt of becoming a hairdresser before she overdosed on ecstasy at Perth's Big Day Out festival in 2009.
West Australian coroner Dominic Mulligan is investigating the circumstances surrounding Gemma's death, including why she was released back into the crowd after visiting a first-aid post - and whether St John Ambulance volunteers were qualified to treat her.
The court heard Gemma was given tickets to the Big Day Out on February 1, 2009, for her 17th birthday and attended the event with her best friend, Cassandra Southern.
Gemma obtained five pills, coloured green with a heart on them, and she and Ms Southern took one each before heading to the concert.
Ms Southern testified on Monday that she and Gemma would take ecstasy on special occasions like New Year's Eve and birthdays because it was a "fun thing to do".
Gemma's mother drove the girls to the concert and reminded them to drink water and apply sunscreen because it was very hot, Ms Southern said.
She said they were very excited about going to their first major concert.
Gemma took two more tablets when they arrived and gave the last one to Ms Southern because they feared the pills could be confiscated if police dogs were present.
"I told her not to, but she swallowed the pills anyway," Ms Southern said, reading from her statement.
She said neither of them had ever taken more than two pills at a time before and she didn't think it was a good idea for Gemma to take three.
She said she was also annoyed that Gemma had taken the extra pill because they were supposed to share it.
When Gemma entered the venue, she was given a wristband that allowed her into areas where alcohol was available because she had changed the date of birth on her driver's licence, Ms Southern said.
Ms Southern was given a stamp on her hand to indicate she was underage, but she rubbed it off and was also given a wristband, she said.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Kate Ellson, said in her opening address that Gemma was escorted to a first-aid room when her teeth began to chatter and she looked sick.
Two volunteer first-aid staff, a first-aid officer and a cadet attended to her, but she did not give her real name or age, Ms Ellson said.
Gemma said she had taken one "dexi" amphetamine tablet and it was determined she was flushed and looked hot.
After going on an amusement ride, Gemma collapsed and began to convulse as she was rushed again to a first-aid tent, Ms Ellson said.
With her lips and fingertips blue, an ambulance rushed Gemma to Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital, but she died the following day.
A lawyer for the event organisers told the court that Gemma had lied about her age, prompting Mr Mulligan to reply: "Minors need to be protected from minors."
The inquest continues.