Father warns young festival-goers of risk of being ‘groomed’ by drug dealers

The father of a teenager who died after taking ecstasy at Leeds Festival has warned young people going to this year's event of the risk of being "groomed" by people "only interested in selling you drugs".

David Celino, 16, died after falling ill at the festival in August last year, an inquest heard earlier this month.

As thousands of people prepare to attend the event this weekend, David's parents Nicola and Gianpiero Celino have urged parents to talk to their children about drugs.

Mrs Celino said: "I think we were a bit naive, you know, we come from a background where we didn't really experiment ourselves and it would have been good to have had more open conversations with him about it."

David Celino, 16, died after falling ill at Leeds festival in 2022

Mr Celino said: "If I could say one thing to (parents), it would be 'sit down and have that conversation'.

"But most people who go to these festivals go as a group. It's really important that that group prepares for what might happen if something goes wrong.

"In David's case, what happens if you run out of alcohol? Are you going to be tempted?

"You're going to be befriended by people who seem like cool festival people that you want to hang out with, but actually they're trying to groom you, they're only interested in selling you drugs and actually one of the most dangerous things you can do is take that step."

The Wakefield inquest heard that David had travelled with five friends from their homes in Worsley, Greater Manchester, to the festival, which attracts more than 90,000 people to Bramham Park near Leeds each summer.

He became ill after taking ecstasy, which his group had bought from a dealer in the Camping Plus area of the festival, and died after being taken to hospital in Leeds.

Mr Celino told the inquest of his fears that unaccompanied teenagers were falling prey to drug dealers who operated like "the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" because of lax security.

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