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June 2, 2023

Disturbing revelations continue at Jarrad Antonovich inquest

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Jarrad Antonovich lost his life at a spiritual retreat near Kyogle. Photo supplied.

Yesterday the inquest being held in Lismore before State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan heard from Jarrad Antonovich’s former partner and a young woman who was at the Arcoora Eco Retreat, near Kyogle, when Mr Antonovich died there in October 2021. This was described as a ‘beautiful occasion’ by event organisers, greatly upsetting the family in the gallery.

Ayahuasca inquiry: Day 1, Day 2.

Kambo inquiry

Jarrad’s former partner and best friend Patrick Santucci joined the inquest via video link, explaining he had also known Mr Antonovich as ‘Ish’, and known him to be a ‘spiritual person who was looking to evolve’. He said they had been close from 2016 until 2021, and he was aware of some lingering effects on Jarrad from his severe car accident in the 1990s.

Mr Santucci said Jarrad had been to South America before they had met, trying ayahuasca there, and in November 2017 they went together to a retreat organised by Lore Solaris at Mangrove Mountain, where they both took ayahuasca. Mr Santucci said he’d never known Jarrad to do drugs like heroin, cocaine, or marijuana in their time together, and he didn’t drink alcohol, but smoked occasionally.

Patrick Santucci in happier times. FB.

Mr Santucci remembered the ayahuasca bringing on a strong hallucinogenic affect – ‘everything went Technicolor… it was quite fascinating actually’. But then he had trouble breathing and had to be talked down from a panic attack by another participant.

While this was happening, Lore Solaris and other people were singing traditional South American songs and playing guitar.

Mr Santucci remembered the participants vomiting into buckets, including Jarrad.

There were three ayahuasca sessions on that occasion, with rapé (a type of Amazonian snuff, administered by a pipe), available the following morning.

In subsequent years, Mr Santucci remembered Jarrad asking him to go to other spiritual retreats organised by Lore Solaris and others, but he always refused. This included events attended by Jarrad Antonovich at Arcoora in April and October 2021, which was the occasion of the Dreaming Arts festival.


Patrick Santucci knew from emailed publicity material that kambo (a poison extracted from Amazonian frogs, delivered via punctures to the skin) was also going to be offered as an optional add-on at this final event, which Jarrad attended without him, and did not survive.

After Mr Antonovich’s death, Mr Santucci spoke to Lore Solaris via phone, and read from a statement he made about that call.

Regarding the hours leading up to Jarrad’s death, Mr Santucci said Mr Solaris claimed to have advised Jarrad not to drink ayahuasca while he was having a bad reaction to kambo ‘but wondered if half a cup would help him’. Mr Solaris also said he found Jarrad’s ventolin and gave it to him, but it didn’t help. Later, a firefighter who happened to be there gave Mr Antonovich CPR.

‘Lore also said it was like his whole body shut down over the course of four to five hours,’ said Mr Santucci. ‘Lore was quick to advise me that Jarrad was surrounded by people who loved him, and an Aboriginal Elder called Uncle Andrew was present with him in the last two hours, chanting sacred songs to him and calling his spirit out of his body.’

Lore Solaris and Cameron Kite in 2020. FB.

Mr Santucci recalled asking Lore if there would be an autopsy, but he said, ‘They’re just plants. They won’t find anything.’

‘Beautiful occasion’

Patrick Santucci said Lore assured him ‘that Jarrad’s passing was a ‘beautiful occasion… he kept referring to how beautiful his passing was.’

Mr Santucci said that when he tried to get more solid facts of the events leading up to his partner’s death, Lore said ‘he had to support the rest of the group’, suggesting he didn’t know quite what had happened.

Mr Solaris instead referred to the koalas making a special sound known to the Elders when the land accepts a spirit.

After the paramedics arrived (this was after midnight, more than twelve hours after Jarrad is thought to have taken kambo), Mr Santucci recalls Lore Solaris saying, ‘The paramedics performed CPR as they had to, but Jarrad had already gone.’

In a discussion about collecting Mr Antonovich’s car, and picking up the keys, Mr Santucci was told the people from the retreat couldn’t find his partner’s belongings, until four days later, when they finally thought to look in the cabin where visitors leave their belongings at the retreat.

Later, when Mr Santucci went to Arcoora to pick up the car, he said he had another upsetting conversation with a caretaker called Fred who also wanted to talk about the ‘beautiful passing’ of Jarrad.

Jarrad Antonovich. Photo supplied.

Mr Santucci recalled saying, ‘I’m going to stop you right there. He had a lot to live for. Don’t give me this story about how beautiful his passing was.’

Testimony of Bella Stone Gardner

Byron Bay’s Bella Gardner, a cosmetics/fashion consultant, then took the stand. She explained her history with kambo and ayahuasca, and her knowledge of Jarrad Antonovich in the time leading up to his death.

Ms Gardner said she was attracted to kambo as a way to detox her immune system from her international partying/jetsetting lifestyle prior to COVID, and had taken the substance a number of times under the kambo practitioner Laara Cooper, a previous witness to the inquest.

She said she had spent about $5,000 receiving ayahuasca and kambo at ceremonies and retreats between 2020 and 2021. While Ms Cooper’s kambo events tended to be small scale, with 25 people at most, she said Mr Solaris’s ayahuasca ceremonies could include 40-80 people.

Ms Gardner told the inquest that at all of these events there was no one available for first aid that she was aware of. She talked about experiencing ‘dramatic purging’ and other frightening experiences with ayahuasca, kambo and peyote.

Bella Gardner in 2017. FB.

She remembered meeting Jarrad Antonovich at the Dreaming Arts festival in October 2021, when he got into trouble for ‘blessing her’ briefly when she was having a bad ayahuasca trip (she explained the sexes are not supposed to interact under the rules of these events).

The next morning Ms Gardner said she saw Jarrad and about five other people preparing to take kambo with practitioner Cameron Kite, later that day seeing Mr Antonovich alone and with others in increasing distress.

She said Jarrad’s neck became so swollen that it was ‘in line with his jawline, at about 11 o’clock that morning’. She said she herself had experienced swollen ‘frog face’, as it’s known, after past kambo experiences, sometimes lasting for days, but nothing anywhere near as severe as that.

Ms Gardner said she didn’t do anything practical to help because ‘participants are not allowed to interfere with anyone’s journey’ – that was the role of the ‘elders’ of the community. She also said she had no phone with her.

Queen of kambo

Ms Gardner said she was relieved when the ‘Queen of kambo’ Laara Cooper arrived around 4pm, assuming that she was there to take control of the situation. (This conflicted with Ms Cooper’s earlier testimony that she had arrived later, and for different reasons.)

Ms Gardner also said Ms Cooper was Cameron Kite’s kambo ‘mentor’, disagreeing with Ms Cooper’s own statements on this matter. (Mr Kite is alleged to have given the kambo to Jarrad on the day that he died.)

Bella Gardner said over several hours she observed Jarrad sitting under a tree as his condition appeared to worsen, and she heard him moaning and unable to purge, in ‘agony pain’. According to her statement, ‘He was struggling. I did not know if his head was going to explode or not from how swollen he was. I’ve never seen anything like that before.’

This frog is used to extract kambo in the Amazon. Wikipedia CC.

She said various kambo practitioners were interacting with Jarrad through the day but ‘I didn’t talk to him because I didn’t want to interfere with his journey.’

Ms Gardner explained that she and others who took kambo were encouraged by the medicine men and women in charge to think of the purging and other side effects as a painful but necessary process of detoxification, ‘We put our lives in their hands… we are guided to trust the medicine and trust them… Trust, trust, trust.’

Later that night, she remembered Jarrad being brought into the back of the main hall where she and others were wearing white and facepainted for the ayahuasca ceremony. She said her friend Lucy was really upset, and she could hear people doing CPR on Mr Antonovich.

She believes she saw a man leave the main altar and take ayahuasca back to Jarrad at some stage, but under examination from counsel was unable to identify exactly who this was. A number of further hostile questions followed from counsel as Ms Gardner became increasingly rattled and emotional.

At the end of proceedings for the day, Counsel Peggy Dwyer asked one final question: why have you come to court to tell your story today?

‘Because if my brother or partner died in one of these ceremonies,’ said Ms Gardner, ‘I would appreciate someone like me stepping forward and giving this family closure, instead of saying to them, it was his time to go.’

The inquest will continue in Lismore today. The Echo will report on developments.

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  1. It is called “wilful Indifference”-‘reckless indifference to human life, or. in an attempt to commit, or during or immediately after the commission of, an offence punishable by at least 25 years imprisonment’
    Isn’t it hard to believe people can be so stupid ? Anybody connected with the organisation of this idiocy should be gaoled.
    Cheers, G”)

    • Fairly obvious, they don’t see it as him dying. That’s just how you see it. That “wilful Indifference” you see, is how most of the things that most of the people here say appear to me and mine. You’re just having an attack of xenophobia due to exposure to cultural diversity. Culture shock it’s much fun, especially when it’s your own people who have ‘gone native’.

      • “they don’t see it as him dying”….. well do they see him as dead ? He isn’t ‘allegedly” dead, he is very ‘EX’
        Did all involved sit by and do nothing to help him as he died ? That is “wilful Indifference, ” a crime under the Geneva Convention and NSW law. The organisers are responsible for his DEATH.
        “xenophobia due to exposure to cultural diversity. ” My arse ! They killed this gullible fool in the western tradition of capitalism, to make a quick buck.
        Cheers , Christian Knartfarkle.

        • If you believe someone can be a woman trapped inside a man’s body, then you believe you are not your body. Therefore, your body can die separate from you. They don’t think he died, just his body. You are perpetuating Western materialist cultural imperialism. When you deconstruct your civilisations religious and cultural traditions, your people will glum on to anything. Marxists post-modernism, tribal shamanism, whatever is more ‘acceptable’ in the climate created. Keep attacking straight White western ways, expect more things like this. You reap what you sow, Ken.

          knart: Knight of the No Agenda Round Table. It’s a good show that explains this sort of stuff.

  2. The headline is very misleading. It is pretty obvious that he died from his bodies bad reaction to Kambo rather than ayurhuesca.
    A great pity but unfortunately typical of the media, that there are zero inquests into mRNA vax and Rendesvir deaths that by now number the hundreds of thousands globally whereas the number of deaths that can be directly attributed to Ayurhuesca are probably close to zero.
    I spent ten years living jn Brazil where Ayurhuesca is taken on a regular basis by no less than three separate government recognised churches totalling hundreds of thousands of people..
    Unlike Kambo, Ayurhuesca does not pose a bodily health risk but is intentionaly challenging for our individual psychosis and needs experuenced direction.

    • ‘hundreds of thousands globally’ ???
      There have been over 3 million excess deaths in the US alone so far.

      • Can you provide the source of your comment “There have been over 3 million excess deaths in the US alone so far.”
        Can you also provide more details, over what period were there over three million excess deaths? Were the excess deaths from all causes or only from specified causes?

        • Those figures of excess deaths are readily available. The debate is about what those excess deaths can be attributed to
          – Covid itself (in my studied opinion, no-one died from Covid but that covid, like pneumonia, can be the nail in the coffin for people already seriously ill.
          – Deaths attributable to vaccines – the evidence clearly demonstrates a large spike in deaths since the vaccine rollout not to mention the distrubingly higher numbers of strokes and heart attacks due to blood clots.
          -Rendesvir – the fingers are increasingly pointing towards Rendesvir as the actual cause of most early ‘covid’ deaths – nurses in New York dubbed it Ren-death-is-near.

          • Mac, I cannot find any figures which give over 3 million excess deaths in the USA. Where does this figure come from?
            If you explore Excess Mortality at https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus#explore-the-global-situation, you obtain a cumulative excess mortality since 1 January 2020 for USA between 1.2 and 1.4 million, which is consistent with CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/) data.
            If you add Australia and New Zealand to the data, both with higher vaccination rates than the USA, can you explain the lower rate of excess deaths for Australia and zero excess deaths for New Zealand?


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