A Coronial Inquest into drug-related deaths at NSW music festivals over summer continued today, with one woman giving testimony about how she was strip searched at a festival.
The ABC reports that a young woman who attended Knockout Circuz in 2017 (where 18-year-old Nathan Tran died of an MDMA overdose) was threatened by security unless she admitted she was carrying drugs.
The woman, whose identity was suppressed, said she rarely drank and had never taken illicit drugs, but that she was picked out of a crowd by a drug dog and told she’d be strip searched “nice and slow”.
She fought back tears and told the court the security made her feel “like a criminal”.
“Everyone was staring at me,” she said, before describing the “unpleasant experience” in which security failed to find any drugs.
She was led off and told to strip. “The dogs are never wrong so just tell me where the drugs are,” said the security officer.
“I had to take my top off and my bra. I covered my boobs and she told me to put my hands up and she told me to tell her where the drugs were.
“I told her I didn’t have any.”
The security officer responded; “If you don’t tell me where the drugs are, I’m going to make this nice and slow’.”
The inquest then heard the woman was forced to squat and cough, while naked.
“She opened the door while I was still naked and handed the wallet to someone else and made me stand there for a bit.”
The Guardian reports that another festival patron described her own experience of being strip searched despite having no drugs on her.
“You’re humiliated,” the woman said. “The way I was spoken to was like I’d done something wrong.”
She also revealed she had seen Nathan Tran fall over on his face at Knockour Circuz at 10:20pm on the day of the festival.
The latest testimonies follow disturbing revelations from earlier in the week, when the court heard that Central Coast teenager Alex Ross King’s fatal overdose at Sydney’s FOMO festival back in January was tragically avoidable.
Her friends said the 19-year-old panic-swallowed three caps of MDMA out of fear of getting into trouble after she saw sniffer dogs.
The inquest is looking into ways to prevent further deaths at NSW festivals, including harm-reduction measures like pill-testing, and issues surrounding law enforcement.
The NSW Government has consistently denied that pill-testing could save lives, despite yet more evidence that pill-testing saves lives, plus two overwhelmingly successful pill-testing trials at Groovin The Moo Canberra and studies showing that the vast majority of Aussies are in favour of it.