Magistrate slams drug users: ‘People are dying’
THEY all came from supportive families, with bright career prospects, travel aspirations and until last Friday, had never stepped inside a court before.
Six young women, all close in age to Alex Ross-King, were among the first tranche of 50 people to face Gosford Local Court in the coming weeks charged after being stopped by police trying to smuggle prohibited drugs into the Lost Paradise music festival.
A further 60 people are expected to face court charged with driving with illicit drugs in their system after being picked up on Peats Ridge Rd leaving the festival.
And after the first six young women left court, five took with them a conviction on their permanent record while the sixth will almost certainly receive a conviction when her matter returns to court next month after she pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.
What they escaped, however, thanks to the efforts of officers and police dog "Gilly" was the same possible death sentence suffered by Ms Ross-King and four other young people who have overdosed on drugs at music festivals in NSW this summer.
One by one, as their matters came up Magistrate Alex Mijovich admonished the women as their lawyers pleaded it was their first offence, the drugs were for personal use over the four-day festival and how they wanted to continue studying or travel overseas.
Mr Mijovich told the women they were "rolling the dice" with their lives by taking drugs and while there were decisions in higher courts that would enable him to not record a conviction, it would not reflect the community's expectations.
"We're asked not to give a conviction for young people (on a first offence) … but we have people dying," he said to one 19-year-old who had been caught with 12 capsules of MDMA sticky-taped to a tampon and secreted inside her.
He said failing to record a conviction would send the wrong message to the community that "you can come to court for a first offence and all you'll get is a slap on the wrist".
"I'm not prepared to do that," he said.
"Everybody wants to travel."
The court heard retail worker and nursing student Amelia Fordsmith, 19, of Blackhill, wanted to travel to New Zealand this year.
Police facts revealed she appeared nervous as police dog "Gilly" made his way down the line of cars at the festival's vehicle checking station about 11am on December 28.
Police spoke to her and she admitted "she had an internal concealment" of 10 MDMA capsules.
She was convicted and put on a community release order (good behaviour bond) for 18 months.
Kiana Mee Ra Soper, 19, of Maryland, pleaded guilty to possessing 12 capsules after police saw her "hiding behind a portable toilet wriggling her hips around".
"It appeared she was trying to secret an object into her pants," the facts read.
When police approached her "the accused's hands were shaking, she was rubbing the top of her head and tears were welling up in her eyes".
Police questioned her and she later removed a tampon with the drugs taped to them.
She was convicted and put on a community release order for 18 months with supervision from Community Corrections.
Meanwhile sisters Meg and Lili Christensen, aged 21 and 24, and their friend Tia Rose Mills, 22, of Coogee, were approached by police dog Gilly as they waited in a white Toyota Hiace van at the checking station on December 28.
Police found three resealable bags, two with seven capsules in each of them and the third bag had three capsules.
Police found another three capsules in an aluminium drink bottle.
They told police they each paid $175 for seven capsules each with another four capsules found in a packet of chips, which they said were for a friend coming the following day.
Meg Christensen, of Singleton, pleaded guilty to eight capsules of MDMA after police found another in a red balloon in her handbag.
"That is one more MDMA tablet from ages ago and I forgot it was there," she told police.
"I planned to take seven capsules over the next four days however I didn't plan to take the one in the balloon as I forgot it was in my handbag."
The magistrate said she had obviously used drugs before if she forgot the one in her handbag and they were lucky not to be charged with supply given they had four capsules for a friend.
They were each convicted and put on community release orders for 12 months.
Olivia May Patricia Dominish, 18, of Ashtonville, pleaded guilty to having 10 capsules of MDMA but her matter was adjourned to Maitland Local Court for her lawyer to dispute the police facts about how she came to officer's attention.