Sydneysiders enjoying the October long weekend were blessed with a trifecta of warm, sun-filled days, with many choosing to spend their time off catching up with mates, partying and relaxing in the great outdoors.
Those who were lucky enough to attend the third annual ‘Listen Out’ festival in Sydney’s Centennial Parklands were treated to a stellar line up of electronic and hip hop artists, among them Childish Gambino, SBTRKT, Joey Bada$$ and Golden Features.
The festival attracted nearly 18,000 revellers, and as to be expected, there was a strong police and sniffer dog presence.
A total of seven partygoers were arrested at the festival for drug supply, including one person who was found in possession of over 100 ecstasy pills and another who had 90 ecstasy pills in their possession.
114 other patrons were arrested for drug possession, with varying quantities of ecstasy, cannabis and cocaine detected.
Just a few days earlier, incredible footage was released of would-be partygoers attempting to gatecrash the Perth leg of the festival by dismantling a wire fence. But they ran into serious problems when met with a second fence, with many forced to scramble and run back just as police officers arrived.
While police commented that ‘overall the behaviour of the crowd inside the venue was great, with no major incidents, medical emergencies or disturbances,’ the number of drug arrests was a increase on previous years.
At the Melbourne edition of Listen Out last year, just 37 were apprehended for drug possession, with the vast majority receiving drug diversions and cannabis cautions.
Just two weeks earlier, a 26-year-old male died after attending a separate music festival in Sydney.
The Albury man is believed to have consumed ecstasy prior to being found unconscious in a tent at the Defqon.1 Festival, held at the Penrith Regatta Centre in Western Sydney.
A coronial inquest will determine whether the man took illicit drugs in the hours leading up to his death.
A further nine people were hospitalised during the festival for suspected drug overdoses. Another 60 people were arrested, with 46 arrests made for drug offences. Four people were charged with drug supply, with two people caught with 46 capsules of a substance believed to be MDMA. The other arrests were for public order and trespass offences.
Several revellers were arrested after police stopped and searched a bus heading to the event. Of the 30 passengers searched, 14 were found with drugs in their possession. The discovery resulted in police issuing a search warrant on a home in Hornsby, where cocaine, ecstasy, steroids and $5,800 in cash was found and seized.
The latest Defqon tragedy is the festival’s second in the space of three years, after the highly-publicised death of James Munro at the very same festival in 2013. The 23-year-old from Victoria was found alone by security staff at the festival. He told paramedics that he had consumed three ecstasy pills beforehand, and suffered three cardiac arrests before being pronounced dead at Nepean Hospital.
Mr Munro’s father, Stephen, later spoke to the media, stating that his son had ecstasy tablets with him and decided to take them before entering the festival, as ‘there was a police presence at the gates and a concern he would be detected.’
While deaths at festivals often ignite calls for sniffer dogs and drug detection operations to be banned, police are likely to use the increased number of drug arrests to justify future operations.
In a media statement issued by NSW Police following the Listen Out festival, Operation Commander Gavin Dengate reminded festival goers of the dangers of consuming illicit drugs. He stated that:
‘We are committed and will always run these types of policing operations to catch anyone peddling illegal and potentially-lethal substances to make the event safer for everyone.’
I’ve Been Charged with a Drug Offence- What Should I Do?
Patrons charged with drug possession during Listen Out are required to attend Downing Centre Local Court in early November. That courthouse is just across the road from our offices. If you’ve been charged, you can call our office anytime to arrange a free first appointment, where we will go through the steps forward, and advise you of the likely outcome.
If you would like to be represented by one of our experienced drug defence lawyers in court, rest assured that we offer fixed fees for all drug possession cases. This means that for a set fee, you will be guaranteed representation by a an experienced specialist who is familiar with the Magistrates in Downing Centre Court, and will fight to help you avoid a criminal record.