Grieving dad calls for legal crackdown on nangs
EXCLUSIVE: The shattered father of schoolie Hamish Bidgood has broke his silence to call for potentially lethal nitrous oxide to be banned.
News Corp Australia can reveal his son was hallucinating, after hours of drinking and inhaling the gas, when he plunged to his death from an apartment block.
Turramurra High student Hamish, 18, had "no idea" what he was doing as he pushed past friends he was partying with to mark the end of Year 12 and hurled himself off the balcony of room 1011 of Surf Regency apartments, falling 11 storeys to his death.
Speaking haltingly from his home in Berowra Heights in Northern Sydney, his father Des Bidgood said: "Hamish had no idea what was happening, he was with friends, he was hallucinating when he fell.
"Every year apartment rooms are rented out to students during schoolies week and they party, as young people do, to celebrate the end of school.
"Hamish is not the first and won't be the last … the gas canisters they inhale for fun should be banned; shop keepers, anyone who sells them on the internet, should be prosecuted if caught selling them.
"This happens all too often. My son died not knowing what he was doing and now … we have to live with that. He was a good, kind kid. People loved Hamish.
"He was having fun, he had it all ahead of him … We've lost him now.
Every year for one week balconies of apartment blocks rented out to students should be blocked off so that they can't go onto them.
"The government needs to take action and ban those awful canisters. We're just devastated and lost for words."
Attorney-General Mark Speakman told The Daily Telegraph he would "review with interest" the findings of the inquest into Hamish's death.
"My heart goes out to Mr Bidgood and all Hamish's family and friends. They have suffered a tragic loss."
"As I understand it the cause of Hamish's death is still under investigation by authorities in Queensland."
"While existing provisions of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act are capable of criminalising the supply of this substance in NSW, I will review with interest relevant recommendations made following any inquest into the circumstances of Hamish's death."
"As my colleague the Police Minister has said, the dangers of this product are well known, and the police have warned the community of the potential catastrophic results from its misuse.
"I again urge young people who are celebrating over this festive season and beyond to do so safely."
Hamish was found face down on the grass area beside the pool of the 14-storey block overlooking Surfers Paradise Beach during the early hours of November 29.
One friend in the apartment said they had stayed up after clubbing to watch the sun rise when Hamish began behaving erratically, pushing past them in the sitting room onto the balcony.
"We had been partying and drinking and doing nitrous oxide. Hamish had no idea what was going on, he was hallucinating and jumped … he pushed passed some of us in the room to get onto the balcony.
"One of the boys who saw him jump ran down to him as fast as he could and saw him on the ground. Someone else called triple-0."
This week his parents Des and Lyn returned from the Gold Coast, where they have been arranging to fly his body back to Sydney ahead of the funeral.
Investigators say Hamish's death was "tragic" and that they had not launched a criminal investigation because there was no sign of malice.
"It's a very tragic situation. Reports that he did not know what he was doing are consistent with what we are investigating. There was no malice," a police spokesman said.
Snapchats of Hamish and his friends hours before the tragedy showed them in high spirits partying at the beach and clubs in Surfers Paradise, where they were celebrating the start of young adult life.
"This is the beginning of the end for Hamish Bidgood," one friend joked, unaware of what was to happen.
One partygoer who saw Hamish out with friends at the Retro Club on Surfers Paradise said he appeared happy and was having fun.
"He was so polite, he shook my hand in queue and introduced himself, said he was from NSW and was having fun with his mates on the Gold Coast," said Dane Hynd.
"He was incredibly well mannered, friendly, a cool guy, just seemed really happy."
A keen cricket player and a member of Berowra Cricket Club, Hamish was a popular figure.
Mount Colah Football Club teammate PK Zaouk said: "We miss him a lot. He was a fantastic teammate. Win, lose or draw, he was always smiling."
High school friend Hollie Lin said: "You have blessed us all with such a strong and kind character.
"Seeing you everyday and your contagious smile made all our hearts full.
"You will always be a bundle of joy from buying weird dinosaurs masks together to rocking my uniform better than any of the ladies could.
"Thank you so much for having the warmest heart."
Nitrous oxide canisters, otherwise known as laughing gas used by dentists, or nangs, are easily available in corner stores in packs of 10 for $10, and intended to be used for whipping cream.
The popular party drug has seen a resurgence in recent years.
Cracked open and inhaled, thrillseekers describe a euphoric and potent 20-second high but the gas bulbs can cause permanent nerve damage, memory loss and, in rare cases, heart attacks.
The Global Drug Survey revealed its use in Australia has rocketed 50 per cent in the six years to 2015.
Surfers Paradise Beach opposite the Surf Regency apartment block from where Hamish fell was last week littered with discarded glittering canisters.
"When you inhale nitrous oxide, you can't think straight and your judgment is impaired," Dr Hester Wilson, chair of Addiction Medicine at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, said.
"It can cause people to make irrational choices."
The drug is regulated when used for therapeutic purposes but stores can sell them freely.
Some stores have twigged onto the bizarre popularity of the cream bulbs and have cracked down on sales.
But users are increasingly turning online for cheap deals. It's not illegal to buy them in NSW but knowingly or recklessly supplying nitrous oxide in large quantities as a party drug has been illegal in NSW since 2013.
Penalties in NSW are up to two years in jail but there are no statistics about how many people, or if indeed anyone, has ever been prosecuted for selling or buying nitrous oxide.