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‘You can’t hide behind your social fortune’: Judge lashes ‘privileged’ drug users

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A SYDNEY magistrate says she is fed up with the number of people from privileged backgrounds streaming through her court on drugs charges.

Magistrate Robyn Denes admonished a series of young professionals — including a nurse, a recruiter and a bank loans provider — after they were caught with small quantities of drugs at a dance party held at Sydney Olympic Park in April.

A heavy police and sniffer-dog presence at rave festival A State of Trance (ASOT), attended by 12,700 people, led to 65 people being arrested on drug possession charges, many of whom ended up in Ms Denes’ Burwood court this week.

“One thing that strikes me about this particular dance festival is there are lots of young people who have every advantage … education, solid family and jobs that others don’t have,” the magistrate said. “You can’t hide behind your social fortune for too long.

“I accept there is something particularly unique at these sorts of festivals.

“I think the drug dealers are all having a bit of a laugh at you with all their wallets full.”

She also blasted those accused of drug possession for “putting in your body” substances they knew nothing about.

“The authorities are onto this,” Ms Denes said. “They’re all over it. Don’t think you won’t get caught.”

Among those charged at ASOT was a 26-year-old from northern Sydney who was arrested after being stopped by a sniffer dog.

When police asked her if she had drugs, she admitted she had two MDMA capsules tied up in a condom and hidden internally.

She told police they were for her personal use.

Her defence lawyer said the charge was a “huge wake-up call”, but Ms Denes launched into the woman for hiding behind her “social fortune”.

Despite the woman’s guilty plea, the magistrate dismissed the charge of possessing a prohibited drug and placed her on a two-year good behaviour bond.

Ms Denes was also unimpressed with the behaviour of a bank loans officer from northwestern Sydney, who was also caught with drugs at the festival.

The woman admitted to police that she had a tablet in her lipstick container, and another in a pink balloon in her mouth, which she spat out for police.

Questioned by an officer about the tablet in her lipstick the 26-year-old said, “I don’t really know what’s inside it. I’m assuming it’s, like, drugs.”

Asked about what was inside the pink balloon, she said, “I haven’t looked at it. I don’t know what’s inside it.

“I am assuming it’s the same s**t.

“I guess I just wanted to try it. I’m an idiot.”

“You are another one,” Ms Denes told the woman. “You live at home in a safe environment.

“You come from a very strict family and it has been a mortifying experience.

“Hopefully this will scare you straight.”

Ms Denes decided against recording a conviction against the woman on the charge of possessing a prohibited drug and placed her on an 18-month good behaviour bond.

Officers at ASOT also allegedly found a 20-year-old man with 150 caps of MDMA, 26 ecstasy tablets and eight grams of cocaine; a 19-year-old with 120 MDMA caps; and a 23-year-old with 47 caps.

South West Metropolitan Region Enforcement Squad commander Detective Inspector Gus Viera described the arrests at the ASOT festival as “alarming”.

“It never ceases to amaze me how many people ignore all the warnings — not only health warnings but the awareness that there will be a high-visibility police operation — then choose to carry illegal drugs into the venue,” Detective Inspector Viera said.

“We’ve detected dozens of young people carrying substances which could not only result in a criminal charge but — if taken — could be life-threatening.

“We have police at all entry points checking for illicit substances, we have drug detection dogs conducting sweeps of the area, yet people still think they can bring drugs into these functions without being stopped.”

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