Monday 18 December 2017

Wrong mum told her child was on life-support after ID mix-up at music festival

Belsonic music festival
Belsonic music festival

Aaron Tinney

A distraught mother is recovering after police mistakenly said her son had collapsed at Belsonic festival and was on the verge of death.

Sam Jones from Co Down was "devastated" when officers phoned to say her boy was on a life support machine at Belfast's Royal Hospital after being treated by emergency workers at the four-day music event.

As the shock sunk in, police called again to tell her the young boy on life support was not her son.

Instead, it was a different child - thought to be under the legal drinking age of 18 - who had been using Ms Jones' son's stolen driving licence as false identification at Belsonic.

It is thought he is now stable and his parents are at his side. Ms Jones yesterday posted on Facebook about her distress: "I have just received the most devastating call that my son is on life support in Royal Hospital on life support!

"Followed by a second call that it's not him … his ID was stolen last year."

The Bangor woman went on to say the boy in hospital was 'under age' and, urging people to share her message on Facebook, claimed "nobody knows who his parents are".

Police later said the boy in hospital had been identified using "other items in his possession".

Ms Jones added in another Facebook post that she and her partner Michael's "thoughts and prayers" were with the parents whose son was in hospital.

She wrote on the social media network: "What was first heartbreaking news given to Michael and myself that it was our son is now another set of parents' worst nightmare and our hearts go out to them this evening.

"We are both still very shaken and shocked by this mistaken identity.

"Our original post was aiming to find the other parents as fast as possible. And yes, there are unanswered questions for as to this mistaken identity causing us a great deal of stress. We are just so thankful this young man is stable."

A PSNI spokesman said officers were first contacted at 8.15pm on Monday by a hospital worker following the admission of a male who had collapsed at Belsonic, held in Belfast's Ormeau Park.

Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick added: "The hospital first identified this young man by the driving licence in his possession. Staff asked police to make contact with the family, as per the address on the licence.

"Given the young man's condition at that time, police prioritised the call and went immediately to that address. Although no-one was home at the time, officers were able to make contact with the family. However, it transpired that the young man was actually carrying false identification and so the wrong family was initially given the terrible news that their 'son' was in hospital.

"The young man was then correctly identified by hospital staff, using other items in his possession."

Police added they arrested six youths aged between 14 and 19 at Belsonic yesterday, the festival's final day. Those arrested were held for drugs, indecency and public order offences.

Chief Inspector Kirkpatrick added: "That number should be viewed in the context of the 15,000 people who were there to enjoy the music."

Belsonic was headlined by Arcade Fire who opened the festival last Tuesday. The series of open-air gigs also feature concerts by The 1975, Jess Glynne, Cream Classical and Martin Garrix.

Belfast Telegraph

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