Mum collapsed in Great Estate Festival portaloo and died

A woman collapsed and died after taking drugs at the Great Estate Festival in Cornwall  (file picture from a previous event)
-Credit: (Image: Matthew Hawkey)


A mum who collapsed in a festival portable toilet after taking drugs could not be saved despite efforts of emergency workers, an inquest has heard. Dawn Elizabeth Mattia, of Devoran, near Truro, became gravely ill while attending the Great Estate Festival last year.

The 57-year-old had taken illicit drugs and collapsed due to a sudden brain haemorrhage. She was rushed from the site at Scorrier, near Redruth, to hospital but sadly passed away on June 5, 2023. It was previously said she died on June 7, 2023, but this was corrected at the hearing.

An inquest held to establish how she died took place at Cornwall's Coroner's Court in Truro today (July 10). It heard how the "great mother" who was a homemaker told paramedics she had taken speed before becoming unwell.

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The festival's onsite medical team rushed to her aid within two minutes of receiving a report a woman was found "slumped over" in a portable loo. She was described as having had a suspected stroke due to one side of her face dropping.

They discovered among her belongings a clear white bag containing a white substance they suspected was illicit drugs. The team, including festival paramedics, provided emergency care until she was taken to hospital in an onsite ambulance.

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The workers were able to ask Dawn questions at the time and she confirmed she had taken illicit drugs. There was an immediate transfer with blue lights by onsite paramedics due to the suspected stroke suffered.

She was initially taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske where she had a CT scan which showed a brain haemorrhage. Medication was given to control the blood pressure and she was referred to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth for surgery but her condition deteriorated quickly.

A repeat scan showed a "significant increase" in blood volume and an urgent transfer was made to Derriford Hospital where she could undergo surgery. By the time she arrived it was deemed she had suffered irreversible damage to her brain and any attempts to perform surgery would be futile.

Adewunmi Oriolowo, consultant pathologist at Derriford Hospital, conducted a post-mortem. It showed a large cerebral haemorrhage that he described as "spontaneous in nature". There were also signs of bronchopneumonia that may have been present due to infection before the bleeding but also possibly developed as a result of the brain bleed.

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Toxicology tests confirmed the use of cannabis and amphetamines. Dr Oriolowo said this could have caused the spontaneous bleed and that if it didn't it would likely have contributed to her being unable to survive.

He said it was his opinion that the drug use was likely a "significant" contributory cause as opposed to the direct cause of the haemorrhage and her subsequent death. Dawn, who was born in Andover, was remembered as a "much-loved" daughter, sister, partner, mother and friend in a tribute posted to the Andover Advertiser following her death.

It said she would be "greatly missed" as people were asked to wear colour to her funeral to "reflect Dawn's life". A further tribute on a website based in the area said: "Much loved daughter, sister, partner, mother and friend to all.

"Will be greatly missed. Donations welcome in Dawn's memory to The Dogs Trust via dawnmattia.muchloved.com." The fundraiser can be found here.

Emma Hillson, assistant coroner for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly recorded a conclusion of drug-related death as a result of amphetamine use. She said it was more likely than not that the drug use caused or contributed to the haemorrhage.