Teen who smuggled 394 MDMA caps into music festival avoids prison

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An 18-year-old aspiring nurse who internally concealed almost 400 MDMA pills at a music festival where a man died has avoided prison again, despite an appeal against her non-custodial sentence.

Police discovered the caps on Tina Thanh Truc Phan after a drug dog detection at the Knockout Games of Destiny dance music festival at Sydney Olympic Park in December.

In January, Phan was placed on a 12-month Community Corrections Order including 80 hours community service. But police said the community service was far too lenient.

Appearing at Parramatta District Court in western Sydney today, Phan was given a more severe community sentence — avoiding a maximum 15-year jail sentence.

However, as he handed down his judgment, Acting Judge Delaney lashed out at the system used by high-level drug dealers to protect themselves from the law — saying the scourge of drug deaths at music festivals is “likely to continue”.

“(Drug dealers) either directly or through intermediaries recruit young persons, who for financial gain or to acquire drugs for themselves agree to take drugs into these locations to sell them, or place them near venues so others can access them at a lesser risk of detection,” he said.

“Those recruited are usually young, often from international backgrounds or interstate with no criminal record.

“Those recruiting them know that… few if any will spend time in prison. Few, if any, give evidence about the source of the drugs and how and by whom they were recruited.

“They seem to know to tell the police that the drugs were for their own use or to give to friends.”

In January, the court heard that Phan was a top student who had just finished her HSC and was waiting to go to the University of Technology, Sydney, to study a bachelor of nursing, and that she played Oz Tag and did cross country running.

“In this case, the respondent was a very young woman with no previous criminal convictions,” Acting Judge Delaney said in court today.

“She is an intelligent young woman who claims she was recruited by a person she would not identify. She had the drugs to sell for financial gain, not to use them.”

However, at the January hearing, Magistrate Louise McManus said Phan’s act of smuggling the 394 capsules internally was “a criminal offence and a deliberate act”.

“You are not an unintelligent young woman and you are wanting to get into a career where you are caring for people,” Ms McManus told Phan.

“This is not just immature or a silly mistake, it was a criminal act which put people at risk.”

On December 8 last year, police arrested five festival goers including Phan on drug charges at the Knockout Games of Destiny at Sydney Olympic Park.

Callum Brosnan, 19, was found collapsed at Sydney Olympic Park train station early on the Sunday morning after the festival.

He was taken to Concord Hospital where he died at 4.30am from a suspected drug overdose.

Police have not publicly revealed Mr Brosnan’s cause of death and it is not suggested he took drugs supplied by Phan.

Phan’s previous Community Corrections Order sentence was quashed and she was instead given an Intensive Correction Order — which is the most serious sentence that an offender can serve in the community.

As part of the sentence, she must undertake psychiatric counselling and carry out an additional 200 hours of community service.

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