Festival founder Spiro Boursinos (Boursine) called triple zero from Elsternwick’s Antique Bar in October 2018, stating he was “about to get f***ing killed”.
Held face down by bar owner Sam Falleti, a bartender and another patron, the 45-year-old lost consciousness before dying at the bar. In the wake of his death Victorian coroner Jacqui Hawkins on Tuesday called for bar operators and staff to be trained to recognise and safely manage patrons having mental health or drug-related episodes.
His older brother, Steve Boursinos, hopes this might “save somebody else’s life” even though it is too late for his brother, who “could have still been alive had the bar handled the situation differently, had the police been called to the scene 10 minutes earlier” – so many ‘what ifs’.
Though Spiro Boursinos was unconscious by the time police handcuffed him, the court heard that nobody from the bar had thought to call an ambulance.
His brother, who had seen him earlier that day, said, “We thought he was doing well, and he seemed fine in the one month when he was living with us. He left home at 4pm sounding positive about a new venue for his event.”
A few hours later, he was on CCTV footage looking “obviously upset”, throwing a glass, which is brother told Neos Kosmos was “an obvious cry for attention”.
For several years prior to his death, Mr Boursinos – a key figure in the electronic bush doof scene and long-running Earthcore festival in Anglesea – had been battling with mental health issues, but seemed to be coping until the night he was pinned down after an episode. Despite grappling with mental health, Mr Boursinos said his brother was “not aggressive” – a viewpoint backed by Ms Hawkins who said Spiro was not threatening anyone, though his behaviour appeared deeply concerning.
“It was the end of the evening when undesirable people gather at venues, and the bar blatantly did not understand how to handle the situation,” Mr Boursinos said, adding that nobody has approached them from the establishment to explain to his family what happened, to offer some words by way of an explanation.
“We’d like to know what happened. We’d like to know why he called the police when he had been there for at least seven hours. It is clear in the footage that he is scared for his life. We still don’t know the details of what happened and why so many things went wrong,” Mr Boursinos said, pointing to his brother’s agitation in the video.
Since Spiro’s death, his father has passed away, succumbing to Alzheimer’s, though it was kept from him that his son had died. His mother, Christine Boursinas is still “devastated” after losing her youngest son, Mr Boursinos said.
Steve Boursinos remembers his younger brother as “brilliant in his own way”, an “innovative” creative. He, his sister and mother are still a long way from healing. Getting answers would be a start.
For Ms Hawkins, building awareness would ensure others are not put in the same predicament as the Boursinos family. She called on the gambling and liquor regulator to provide guidance for all licensed venues about the risks associated with managing or physically restraining aggressive patrons.