Teenager died from ecstasy overdose at music festival, coroner finds

Corey Kendall
Corey Kendall died at the Reading Festival in August last year (Photo: stock image)

A TEENAGE student nurse from New Milton collapsed and died at the Reading Festival having taken dance drug ecstasy, an inquest heard.


Corey Kendall and a group of friends travelled to the music event in August last year with an array of substances, including ketamine and cannabis, Berkshire Coroner’s Court was told. They had planned to take them at intervals to “stay safe”.

However, a friend of Mr Kendall’s said the 19-year-old took four doses of ecstasy – also known as MDMA – “too quickly”, and that likely caused him a fatal medical emergency.

Mr Kendall lived with parents Marcus and Jo – a teacher at New Milton Junior School. He and his group of friends were not regular drug users, the inquest was told.

They arrived at the event on 22nd August and his school friend, Sean Cooney, explained how the group shared the drugs they had brought over the following two days.

“From my experience, I have never had a bad reaction to drugs,” he told the hearing. “On Saturday, we were all intending to take MDMA – Corey and I shared a gram between us. We split that into four doses each to take throughout the night.

“It usually takes 45 minutes to kick in but it took two hours this time. By about 9pm we were having a good time. No one was having issues with the drugs they had taken and we were drinking water and not drinking alcohol.”

The inquest heard how Mr Kendall took his fourth dose of MDMA less than 30 minutes after the third, before slipping away from the group partying in the music tent.

He was spotted by festival volunteer Sam Woolvin, who suspected he was intoxicated by drugs because he was struggling to stand up.

“I took him to a quiet area outside of the tent and I got him into the recovery position. At 11.40pm festival medics battled their way through the crowds to assist me,” the volunteer said.

Daniel James, an event responder, heard of the medical emergency over the radio. Having just finished responding to another incident, he rushed to the left of the stage.

“The headline act had just finished and it was not clear where the patient was. When we arrived we transferred the boy on foot to the medical centre but as we approached his level of consciousness deteriorated,” he said.

Mr Kendall was cared for by nurse Christine Jones, and ventilated and anaesthetised before being rushed to the Royal Berkshire Hospital as his temperature soared to 41 degrees.

After two days in the intensive care unit, Mr Kendall’s condition worsened and his parents made the decision to turn off his life support machine. He died at 3.40pm on 25th August last year.

Friend Mr Cooney added: “In my opinion, Corey had taken too much too quickly, we had the same amount of drugs from the same batch.”

Toxicologist Fiona Perry confirmed the concentration of MDMA was associated with fatality, and pathologist Dr Colin McCormick concluded Mr Kendall died of the toxic effects of the drug.

Assistant Berkshire coroner Alison McCormick noted the group of friends “had experience in using drugs but were not regular users” and there had been “some planning of what drugs to take and what times” with the intention of doing so “safely”.

She added: “On 24th August, Shaun and Corey shared some MDMA, one gram between them and they were intending to take four doses throughout the night. Shaun noted Corey had taken the final dose too soon, less than 30 minutes after the third dose.

“Corey left Shaun in a music tent and did not say where he was going. Corey was spotted unable to stand by a volunteer who put him in the recovery position. An event responder suspected drug toxicity and, using a carry sheet, took him to the medical centre where his condition deteriorated.”

The coroner determined Mr Kendall died an accidental drug-related death, adding: “It is testimony to the fatal effects of substantial use of MDMA even taken with safety precautions. It is terribly sad, it really is a tragedy.”

As reported in the A&T, the news of Mr Kendall’s death was first confirmed by New Milton Junior School in a newsletter to parents.

It shared a statement from his mother, which said: “The hearts of family and friends are broken by the loss of our beloved Corey. Corey brought happiness and laughter to so many people.

“He was passionate about his family, his friends, about life and the people he looked after. It is incredibly hard for his mum, dad, brother and sister that his sunshine no longer shines on us.”