COUNTY NEWS: Eyewitnesses describe '˜mayhem' at Mutiny Festival

Eyewitnesses have described scenes of '˜mayhem' at Mutiny Festival last night as organisers held a press conference to explain their decision to cancel the final day of the event.

Mutiny Festival on Sunday after it had been cancelled following the deaths of two people on Saturday. Picture: Duncan Shepherd
Mutiny Festival on Sunday after it had been cancelled following the deaths of two people on Saturday. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Two revellers – a 20-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman – died after collapsing at the music festival last night. They were taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham but could not be saved.

The festival at King George V Playing Grounds in Cosham, Portsmouth, attracts people from across Sussex each year. Organisers took the decision to cancel the last day of the festival in light of yesterday’s deaths.

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A press conference was held this afternoon, in which Ian Baird, Mutiny safety organiser, said: “It is with tremendous sadness that we can confirm that two of our festival family died in hospital overnight.

Mutiny Festival on Sunday after it had been cancelled following the deaths of two people on Saturday. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

“We understand the police are not linking the two deaths at this stage. We do know that the police are supporting the next of kin and we are continuing to work closely with both the police and the other relevant authorities.

“We took the decision, supported by the police, to cancel today’s festival to safeguard the welfare of all our visitors and out of respect for the two young people who lost their lives.

“This is deeply upsetting and we again wish to send all our thoughts to the families.”

Organisers of the two-day event have been lambasted by revellers after saying security ‘was a joke’ with ‘hardly any police’ seen as drugs were awash in the venue.

Around 175 security and crowd management staff were on site during the festival, which organisers say is 20 more than what was agreed.

With events beginning to spiral out of control Mutiny posted on its Facebook page last night warning people. “We are aware of a dangerous high strength or bad batch substance on site,” it read.

“We strongly urge you to not take any substances whatsoever and to report any symptoms of illness / discomfort immediately to medical, welfare, security or the safeguarding team.”

But those fears turned into a nightmare reality following the confirmed deaths of the two young people.

Revellers, though, said they were not surprised the showpiece event ended in tragedy.

Peter Stone, 25, said he saw paramedics trying to save the woman.

“It was horrible to see,” he said. “It’s such a shame that people’s lives have gone this way.”

Josh Beattie, 20, from Brighton, said: “There wasn’t much security. There were two wardens in each tent, all they were doing was telling people to get off people’s shoulders.

“I’ve been properly drug searched before at other festivals but these ones just looked at you. It’s ruined my weekend.”

Joe Boorer, of Petersfield, said the lack of security ‘made it easy’ for people to take drugs.

A statement from the organisers said: “There was also a whole host of safeguarding, welfare and medical teams as well as the police.”

Queen Alexandra Hospital confirmed that on top of the two people that died, one person is also in a critical condition and another 12 people were hospitalised following the events of Mutiny Festival yesterday.

A mum, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “It’s an awful thing – really scary. We heard there were kids all over the place in Queen Alexandra hospital. It was mayhem.

“It was right to cancel the event – there could have been more casualties if it had gone ahead.”

Colin Harris, from Fareham, said: “Such a waste of life. The warnings were there from previous events. I hope there is a full enquiry into these deaths which more than likely could have been prevented.”